Have you seen the amount of TEFL job adverts that want people to teach young learners? More and more private English schools in China are taking on younger and younger students. Partly it’s to offer their customers a service that they want, and partly it’s to make more money. After all, if a young student likes the school, and is doing well, then they’ll potentially stay for years to come!
Some schools are even specializing only in young learners, as that’s where they believe they’ll be able to make the most money in the coming years.
Why Teach Young Learners in China?
The biggest reason to consider teaching Young Learners in China is really two-fold.
The first, and biggest reason, why you should consider teaching kids in China is because there are just so many jobs available in China for teaching Young Learners. You’ll find Young Learner, or Kids’ Schools, in every town and city all over China, and all of these young learner schools in China are looking for foreign TEFL teachers.
The second reason is that children are just a joy to teach and you can have such a big impact on their lives and educational and social development; real teaching.
But I Never Trained for This!
That’s probably true. Most CELTA courses don’t prepare their trainees too much for very young (or even young!) learners. A big reason for this is because they can’t get Young Learners on the training courses for teacher trainees to do their six hours of observed practice with. The good news is that it’s not too hard to make the crossover.
Relevant Teaching Techniques
A lot of the techniques you learned are still applicable. Classroom management, for example, is still essential, but you’ll have to develop (or borrow from colleagues) extra routines for keeping the learners interested and paying attention.
A good example of this is turning discipline into a game. If the learners are beginning to get distracted, you can start counting in a dramatic voice “1…..2…” and by the time you reach “3!” the learners should all be sitting in the chairs with their arms crossed.
But I’m Not Sure I’ll Enjoy Teaching Them!
That’s a fair point. The first time I taught a class of 4 year-olds, I felt out of my depth and the class was terrible. Then I took a step back and realized that, hey, they’re just kids – I can’t place the same expectations on them as I would my older students.
So in terms of pace of learning, and behaviour, it helps to have a smile on your face and have the expectation that you all enjoy yourselves in the classroom. In English, of course.
I find that most teachers go through this same process – nervousness, a couple of rough classes while they adjust, and then they end up loving the students.
Of course, there are those teachers that simply love teaching very young learners, and if you’re one of those, I know I’m preaching to the choir.
Benefits of Teaching Very Young Learners
I find that the following is a typical list of reasons why teaching very young learners is great:
- Students can handle a much higher level of repetition than older learners (easier lesson planning!)
- Course syllabi typically come with better-suggested lesson plans (again, easier lesson planning!)
- You get out of teaching what you put in – so while classes are high energy, you get a real buzz by the end
- You can see progress much faster than higher level classes, which means you get a greater level of teaching satisfaction.
- On a similar note, if you’re teaching them phonics to learn to read – what better gift is there to a student than reading?
- And finally, let’s face it – kids are cute!
Very Young Learners are a joy to teach, although teaching a class can be quite intimidating when you first start.
Once you start to get the routines down pat though, you’ll begin to love the class, and feel great about the difference you’re making in their lives.
So good luck, and enjoy your time in the classroom!