Language barriers in teaching

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Language barriers in teaching

Unread post by amyte » 16 Sep 2010, 15:50

Hello everyone,

I have just started a job teaching kindergarten children in a school in Turkey. I am in the process of doing my TEFL at the moment so it is incomplete.

I am very nervous about how to go about teaching children English when I don't speak any Turkish. Can anyone advise how to approach the classes and what methods I can use to help my communication with such a language barrier?



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Re: Language barriers in teaching

Unread post by petershell » 21 Oct 2010, 13:46

Hi Amy,
What type of materials do you have to work with?
There are a lot of great books for kindies to work with these days.
Having a good book to do a a page or two in a class really helps.
Use a lot of flashcards, flashcard games, draw pictures and sing songs.

Also for young learners use TPR activities (total physical response).
Simon says is a great game for the older kindies.
There are loads of materials available on the internet.
Keep it simple, try your best and don't be discouraged.
With kindies it can appear as if no learning is happening but they're actually absorbing a lot.
Beware of trying to teach to much in a lesson.
Repeat, repeat and repeat some more.
Repetition allows the language time to sink in, if you move to quickly they will forget what they have learnt.
Have fun!

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Re: Language barriers in teaching

Unread post by LouannePiccolo » 21 Oct 2010, 20:08

Hi Amy,

Keep each lesson simple and do not cover too much at a time. Use a lot of exaggerated actions and act out instructions, for example, you can sit down and say "sit down" at the same time while pushing downwards with your palms towards the floor.

Children pick up instructions like "close your eyes, open your eyes, stand up, sit down, make a circle" very quickly. Make sure to play simple, fun listening games in the beginning so that children can play even if they don't understand the instructions.

A few simple ideas:

1. Place 5 animal flashcards on the table or the mat if you prefer sitting on the floor
2. Point to each flashcard and say the animal out loud
3. Say the name of a child and say "show me the lion". The child will only understand the word lion, if you have drilled the flashcards enough, but if you make an exaggerated "where is" gesture he will point it out. If not, do it yourself and then ask another child to show you another animal and so on until everyone has had a turn
4. Stand up and say "stand up" while pushing your palms upwards
5. Show a flashcard and make the sound of the animal and walk around the room moving the way the animal would. If you have chosen a monkey card then jump around the room while making the "ooh, ah, ah" sound monkeys make. Children will join in.
6. Sit down again and put the flashcards upside down and ask "where is the lion?" to one child. When he turns over a card and finds an animal that is not a lion, say loudly "monkey" and show him the card for him to say monkey. Do this until every child has had a turn at looking for the card you have told them to look for.

These are just ideas but they show you don't really need to be able to speak a child's language to play games with him. Give your students a reason to talk and play simple games where children listen to what you are saying. Read this article on encouraging a silent class to talk and apply the same ideas to your class.

Lastly, do not be too stressed out, they're only children! Have some fun with them and it'll be fine.

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Re: Language barriers in teaching

Unread post by systematic » 29 Oct 2010, 08:14

Pretty much all TEFL teaching involves teaching to groups and individuals whose language(s) you don't know, and it's not such a challenge as you might imagine - especially with young children. Start every lesson with either a boisterous warm up such as getting them to run round the room pointing to things and yelling out the English words for them, and/or songs such as one of the ABC songs (with or without giant flashcards for the letters), or games like Simon Says. When they are well and truly worn out, they can do some quieter activities such as the activities mentioned by Louanne and Petershell, or colouring line drawings, again with the dual target of learning colours and more vocab. Good text and activity books, even those for age 3+ come with teachers' manuals that walk you through every lesson. Other useful realia are things like glove puppets and cuddly toys - in fact anything you would find in any young child's toybox. Working with very young children has to be fun for everyone - avoid at all costs falling into the trap of turning the 'lesson' into a traditional classroom environment. At that age, they probably can't read and write yet in their own language, so avoid pushing them in English faster than the linguistic expectations of their own national curriculum. Young children learn language faster than at any other time in their lives, they will mimic everything you say and do - and your mistakes ;)

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Re: Language barriers in teaching

Unread post by jounderw » 15 Nov 2010, 23:14

I agree about the repetition. The most important part of any exercise, especially when it comes to language teaching, when teaching children, is to repeat repeat repeat. It is the only sure way to get the information engraved in their little minds.

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