Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Discussion about teaching ESL to children

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Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Unread postby leboutondor » 02 Oct 2009, 11:18

Hello everyone,

I have just begun teaching English to a young Spanish learner (11 years old). The student already has some knowledge of English and is learning it in school as well, so I'm only providing extra tuition. However, the student's parents have given me complete freedom with each lesson (which last 30 minutes, twice a week).

I am a native speaker of English, but I have no qualifications and have never taught anyone before. Basically, I don't know where to start! Can anyone help me out or give me some advice? Are there any sites that provide lesson plans for young learners? Should I focus on anything in particular? Vocabularly/grammar? Obviously I need things that aren't going to be too advanced, but at the same time, nothing that is going to be too elementary either.

Any help would be very much appreciated!

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner

Unread postby ireland » 14 Oct 2009, 20:44

I teach reading to young children. I always start with the basics, that is, the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, then move through the code of english...teaching the child how to break down each word,for example teach the ay sound as in day, it has lots of variations, such as chain, same etc. A great resource is www.seeandsound.com they offer decodeable books and back up materials- takes the hassle out of teaching and gives good results.good luck

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner

Unread postby littlemissbossy » 06 Nov 2009, 08:53

I've been teaching English to YLs for some years now and have some ideas to share.
Just posted a post on my blog for the newbies :)
Feel invited to take a look :P


Hope you find the ideas useful!

Good luck!

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner

Unread postby YaoKB » 20 May 2010, 13:57


I've a certificate in teaching English to YL and about 5 years total experience (as I teach on and off).

In theoretical terms, I would suggest that your approach with young learners involve pictures no matter what the topic. Remember that YL have a relatively short attention span, but are similarly very imaginative (usually) and this needs to be fed. Associate these pictures with words that tell a story, or give tasks that empower the learner to develop the stories.

As for a practical method --well, there are indeed lots of websites with free lesson plans, worksheets, tips, etc. Make use of them!

For Young Learners, my final advice would be this: the lessons have to be fun; and if you are having "serious" fun teaching, then the chances are that the learner's having fun learning. This makes them more receptive.

Be flexible! And don't fret --it's extra tuition, remember!

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Unread postby sharons » 26 Jun 2010, 17:29

Hi Everybody.

I live in Spain and I am a qualified Accountant by trade.
I have been learning Spanish via intercambio (teaching English and learning Spanish)
and one of my students has encouraged me to take the TEFL examine which
I have nearly completed.

I have also started teaching English to some Spanish children and they are
enjoying and learning English very quickly and I am very proud of them.
I also enjoy teaching very much.

However the reason I am writing is to ask for some advice, whilst doing the
TEFL course I realised the things I did not know myself like rules on Grammer
as in which tense is correct etc. For example I was speaking to her Yesterday
and I spoke to her Yesterday would be correct for me but I do not understand
the difference.... However I do know if the student said yesterday I was
speak to her I would know it was wrong.
I am now a little worried that I am not going to be able to teach English
Grammer. But as I am teaching children I am not sure if this is going to
be a problem........ i.e. the aim for me is to help the child speak the langugage

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Unread postby LinguRing » 06 Aug 2010, 07:39

From your post, I wouldn't worry about being able to teach kids, I think you'll be fine! As mentioned above, lots of pictures and materials are one of the best ways that kids learn. I use a lot of flashcards in class and turn these into games which the kids enjoy and also reinforces the vocabulary for them. Kids remember things quickly, but lots of revision stops them forgetting, and I always, always look for new materials. Something fresh keeps the classes exciting and the kids interested!

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Unread postby petershell » 16 Sep 2010, 12:09

I've been teaching young learners for the last 8 years.
I would like to recommend this site: www.monkeyface-esl.com
I'm sure you'll find plenty of comprehensive materials there.
There are teacher's guides too.

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Re: Where to begin when teaching a young learner?

Unread postby xiphiasatsi » 04 May 2013, 12:38


You said that the learner have some knowledge already.That is good because that won't be a challenge for you.Find out his weaknesses and concentrate on that.If he is weak in vocabulary/grammer,spend more time for that part.

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