ESL Kids -Teaching English To Children

Teaching English To Children

ESL activities for kindergarten English learners, preschool lesson themes and fun exercises for kids have become an important aspect of foreign language teaching. English as a foreign language in preschool has become an increasing trend in many different countries across the world. Kindergartens all over the world offer the opportunity of second language learning, usually of English language.

Of course, the content, preschool lesson themes, and ways of transferring knowledge based on fun ESL activities are adapted to kindergarten age and social environment. Methods, techniques and tools are numerous; international kindergartens normally use language immersion as the main teaching method, and most national state and private kindergartens offer the possibility of second language learning using different foreign language teaching methods (such as the series method) - it depends on the country.

Second language learning in kindergarten
Second language learning in kindergarten

Second language learning in kindergarten

Some people are not sure whether it is right for their children to start learning a foreign language at such an early age (3-6), and some believe that we are imposing too much on them by asking them to do so, but this is really wrong. It is already scientifically proven that children at this age actually have a strong potential to acquire almost an infinite number of new information, especially when second language learning is concerned. Moreover, it has been proven that children who learn a second language at a very early age (compared to those who don't), have more active brain spheres and later have less difficulties in school subjects other than English.

Second language learning - when to start?

Most teachers who begin teaching English as a foreign language in kindergarten think how easy it is going to be to teach this age group. Soon they discover that the task is not easy at all. Early language learners have to be interested, constantly animated and involved in a variety of fun ESL activities and exercises for kids.

Nowadays, the Internet provides us with an infinite number of games, songs, rhymes, and other fun ESL activities, but one often doesn't find ''the head and the tail'', or in other words, where to start and where to finish preschool lesson themes.

ESL Games For Kids

English games for kids are so much fun!

In some kindergartens where non-native speakers learn English, children are usually divided into two groups: those aged 3-4 have a different syllabus and different (but similar) teaching methods and esl activities from those aged 5-6.

Teaching ESL in kindergarten to 3- and 4-year-olds, is restricted to action-based activities, playing games, singing and dancing; with 5- and 6-year-olds the methodology of teaching English as a foreign language is extended by using storytelling, role play and dramatization techniques. Play and interactive preschool lesson themes and fun ESL activities are the basic tool for second language learning, and grammar and vocabulary development in both groups.

Use drawings and colouring page sheets to introduce new words in English language to preschool second language learners
Use drawings and colouring page sheets to introduce new words in English language to preschool second language learners

Teaching materials used for preschool ESL actvities

There is a great number of pre-school teaching materials for teachers to use and apply on preschool ESL activities. This is the part in which the teacher's creativity is most visible and most important. Children like to see all different kinds of visuals: posters, flashcards, pictures, videos, picture books, pictionaries or picture dictionaries for children etc.

The best is to combine hand-made materials with factory manufactured materials. Children like to be engaged in practical, fun activities and exercises for kids, and participate in making things like Christmas postcards or paper airplanes, ships, etc.

ESL activities and teaching methods

Still, keep in mind that it takes a lot of time for the little ones to make things, therefore, the method of practical works is more appropriate for seasonal, festivity and birthday themes.

As a parent or teacher, you will notice that children tend to conversate and make funny jokes in their mother tongue while making things, so be careful not to waste time forgetting that you are in the middle of an English class.

Methods of drawing and conversation are very effective; you teach new vocabulary by showing pictures, flashcards or other visuals, by talking about given topics (try to use English as much as possible) and the children are learning by listening, looking at pictures, drawing, colouring and eventually talking. Free colouring pages and worksheets with numbers or alphabet letters, connecting dots, animals, seasons, etc. can be found on the web (type in colouring pages into the search engine search box).

Fun Preschool ESL Activities - Total Physical Response (TPR)

TPR imperatives in teaching English as a second language in kindergarten or ELL environment are seen as an important second language learning method (or, according to some linguists, approach).

TPR is one of the most important teaching approaches which can be adapted to a various number of teaching situations, and children really have fun doing it. It helps practising vocabulary connected with actions, tenses, imperatives and instructions, classroom language and even storytelling. It can be combined with the techniques of singing and dancing; English songs and nursery rhymes for pre-schoolers should be included in almost every theme.

ESL activities in Kindergarten

Many parents and teachers wonder what preschool lesson themes and English activities for kids would be most interesting to children learning English as a second language. The topics are pretty simple and universal in the early language learning syllabus; small kids will stay interested as long as you succeed in making ESL activities funny and understandable.

You should start your ESL lesson with English games for kids through which you can repeat previously learned vocabulary. For example, this is a simple preschool ESL activity:

  • Simple ESL game for kids

* * * Ask children to sit on the floor in the middle of the classroom and ask them to cover their eyes with their hands (and warn them not to peek!). Take an item, such as a plastic apple or pencil (or anything else), and hide it somewhere in the classroom. If you hid a red pencil, tell your early language learners to search for a red pencil (in the target language). Repeat the activity a few times using different objects.

Preschool Lesson Themes and ESL activities


Hello! Good morning! Good afternoon! Good evening! Good night! Goodbye!

  • You can practise saying hello and goodbye by knocking on wood and saying: ''Hello! Is there anybody home?'' and by waving your hand on saying ''Goodbye!''
  • Play the "day and night" game (you can use this game to teaching them opposite words like morning/evening, summer/winter, big/small etc). Always explain why you are playing the game and introduce game rules. For example: "we sit down when we say evening because we are tired after a long day and we stand up when we say morning because then we get up from bed ready to live the day", etc.

Be careful that your intonation is musical because the words are then easier to remember!

Use hundreds of drawings to teach your preschoolers basic English vocabulary
Use hundreds of drawings to teach your preschoolers basic English vocabulary


Teach your early language learners 11 different colours: yellow, red, blue, green, orange, pink, black, white, grey, pink, purple.To teach colours you can use flashcards or simply different objects with different colours.

  • Take coloured pencils and say the names of the colours. Then ask the children to repeat after you. (Remember there is lot of repetition in teaching English to small children).
  • Take out the pencils and ask the children to speak out the names of colours, or take any other object, or colour flashcards for this ESL activity.


Numbers 1 – 20. First teach your early language learners to say the numbers up to 10, and once they've acquired them in the foreign language, teach them numbers from 10 to 20.

Use flashcards, write down the numbers on the board or find games with numbers on the Internet. If you use the cards with numbers turn them face down, ask the children to pull out the cards and then to guess the number on the card.

You can combine the numbers and colours by drawing on small pieces of paper or a big piece of paper (where you put all the numbers); perform an activity in which you call the children to come and colour the number by saying, for example: ''One is yellow. Two is red. Three is blue…etc.''

Remember to always demonstrate the ESL activities yourself before asking the children to repeat or continue.


Mother – Mum, Father – Dad, brother, sister, grandfather – grandpa, grandmother – grandma. Introduce the words baby and family into this word class.

  • Use drawings/flashcards, talk about family, ask children the names of their parents, brothers and sisters, ask them to draw their family on a piece of paper.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes Video


Introduce the word body.

  • Stand up, point to the parts of the body that you are speaking out loud: hair, head, face, eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, ears, cheeks, nose, mouth/lips, teeth, chin, neck, shoulders, arms/hands, fingers, belly, legs, knees, toes, back.
  • Use TPR: Show me your head/shoulders…etc., or frases followed by demonstration: I wash my hair/face/teeth…I brush my hair.
  • Ask them to draw certain body parts that are easy to draw, use flashcards or draw on the board.
  • Teach them to sing the popular English song ''Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.'' Make them sit down and point to these body parts while singing.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm song video


Teach your early language learners the names of domestic and wild animals using the usual materials and ESL activities. If you have animal figures or toys give them to your young learners and ask them to immitate animals sounds ( sounds made by animals the figure of which they hold in their hands). Make a list of animal sounds for yourself to decide which sounds (English verbs) you would like to introduce for play.

Use nursery rhymes on this topic and teach them children's animal songs such as "Old McDonald had a Farm". The song is about an old farmer who keeps different animals on his farm.

HOME: house and furniture

Roof, chimney, wall, window, door.

Bedroom, bathroom, living-room, kitchen.

  • You can each them words like: bed, chair, table, curtains, basin, towel…etc. First teach them basic words and then expand the vocabulary by making associations with another word class.
  • Remember: you shouldn't teach one unit per hour but always repeat previously taught vocabulary and you don't have to introduce all the words in one class at the same time.
  • Introduce new words slowly and do a lot of repetition. Follow their rhythm and decide on your own when to move on, how long to repeat – you will sense this by playing games with them in which you can verify their memory status.


Teach these words slowly (it's a big word class). Use colouring pages, drawings, flashcards. Talk about specific topics – start a conversation to introduce any theme, for example, ask them what they like and don't like to eat and similar things. Of course, to introduce a theme using this very important method – conversation – you may use mother tongue, but always ask children to remember how we say "things" in English. In this word class you can also introduce the words: breakfast, lunch, dinner and verbs eat and drink.


Pick the words you would like to teach and combine them with the four seasons. Use the usual materials and/or the clothes that you and the kids are wearing at the time of lesson.


Sun, moon, cloud, rain, thunder, snow, snowflakes, stars.

Repeat the words night/day and parts of the day: morning, afternoon, evening.

Autumn, winter, spring, summer.

If the children don't know any of the words you teach them, teach them in their mother tongue first, then in English.

Use the usual material and activities (drawings, cards; drawing and colouring).

Teach them nursery rhymes such as "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!"

With the word rain introduce also the word umbrella.


Give a blank peace of paper to the kids and ask them to draw these: sun, cloud, bird, tree, flower, ladybug, butterfly and similar.

Tell a simple riddle and ask for feedback :

''What's on the sky;
it's not a cloud,
it's not a bird,
but in winter and summertime it keeps us warm?''

(The sun), or

''What is it that flies in
the air and
we know it's not a bird or a plane?''


Did you learn anything new about teaching English as a foreign language in preschool?

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Did you as a teacher find the information in this hub useful for your work?

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If you liked this hub about fun ESL activities for kindergarten English learners, please don't forget to vote it up and share the link with your social networks! Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. I'm sure English students and teachers teaching English to children would be happy to learn how to practise more English games for kids and other ESL activities.

More by this Author

Your Thoughts on English Games For Kids and ESL Activities 69 comments

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

As a teacher, I liked this hub very much. I also teaching for pre-school but not in English. I think they have good memorize in that age. It good to develop with simple teaching. I rate this UP. Thanks

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vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Thank you prasetio30. I´m happy you found the hub useful. The content of the hub is applicable to other languages of course.

Teach English in Italy 6 years ago

Hi, thanks for this information. I just recently started teaching preschoolers English here in Italy. I've had quite a bit of experience with elementary school children, but I've come to realized that this preschool group is quite a different entity!!

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vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Yes, it is different. I taught ´´all ages´´ there are including adults, and I prefer the pre-schoolers and adults!

opismedia profile image

opismedia 6 years ago

I must agree with you on "pre-schoolers learn foreign languages" subject. I really think you have a good point there. Thanks for sharing all these info with your fellow hubers. Keep up the good work.

mattversion81 profile image

mattversion81 6 years ago

I agree that TPR is fantastic for teaching ESL students more vocabulary. It is a more fun way for students to learn through movement, rather than just reading the book. AND GREAT HUB!

dyanchadha 6 years ago

why do you have so many spelling mistakes ?

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vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Thank you dyanchadha for your comment. Unfortunately, I always find some spelling, even grammar mistakes in my hubs so I tend to read them again to make corrections. I read this hub again and corrected 4 or 5 mistakes and left the BE spelling of the word ''colour'' (''color is AE). I'm glad you warned me about it. Thanks, again :-)

kimbles profile image

kimbles 6 years ago from The World

Hey a very interesting read thanks. I have a hub outlining why Spanish is good as a second language, feel free to drop by when you are browsing

Justsilvie 6 years ago

Nice Hub and very good resource for those wanting to teach English to children. I have taught adults at a school in Vienna, but I think teaching young children would so much more fun.

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vox vocis 6 years ago Author

Justsilvie: It is more fun, but also more difficult. One has to keep those kids concentrated...

ariska 5 years ago

great hub! i used this information as a main source for presenting my final report. thank you!

sez 5 years ago

Many thanks from me too! I arrived slightly late (due to visa delays) to start teaching my kinder kids English last year, and I was in a state of panic most of the year because it was my first teaching kinder. I am preparing my plans and goals for this year and this hub has been a great starting point!

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

Hello, sez and thanks for leaving a comment! I am really glad you found this article helpful and hope to post more articles on this topic soon. Good luck with your work!

mag76 profile image

mag76 5 years ago

I also think teaching preschoolers a foreign language is a good idea, and it's not that difficult to find enough free resources online to keep those young minds concentrated. You just need to keep in mind that children in that age do not like any kind of activity if it lasts too long. So you'll have to prepare a variety of activities for a single session with them.

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@mag76: Yes, that's true. Thanks for the comment :)

Gwen 5 years ago

Really helpful, thanks.^^

MOON 5 years ago

Hi, do you have any tips about how teaching English without using the student's mother tongue?...I have to teach pre-school this year (3-5 years old) and they hardly know their own language! I hope you can help me out with some ideas, thanks:)

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@MOON: Of course, here's a list of things you could do:

- use a lot of photos, toys and objects to explain their meaning and to make the kids understand what you want to say.

- use a whiteboard/blackboard to draw

- play songs for them and take pauses between verses to explain the meaning of what they just heard.

- use hand puppets to demonstrate short conversations between two "people"

- always greet them and say goodbye in the same way

- always ask them to repeat (your facial expressions and gestures will play an important role)

- base half of your lesson on TPR (Total Physical Response); learn more about it following the link above in the text

- play games

- ask a lot of questions: for example, take a few objects and put them in a basket. Take one object and show it to the kids. Ask: "Is it a flower?" (while showing a car toy). They will probably look in amaze. Answer: "No, it's a car." (and wave your head left-right). Then take a flower and ask: "Is it a flower?" and answer "Yes, it's a flower!" (and wave your head down). In time, they'll answer alone and you'll be just waving your head :) As a matter of fact, after repeating the game over and over again, they might ask and answer the questions and you'll just be showing the objects :)

- make them repeat what you've said all the time

-watch your intonation to help them understand the difference between a question and a declarative sentence

There are so many tips to share, but the comment would be endless (I may write a book about this topic).

If you still have some questions, don't hesitate to come back and ask. Let me know if you found these tips useful!

Flora 5 years ago

quite useful. Thanks for sharing.

niki 5 years ago

really helpful for me thank you very much

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@Flora and niki: It's nice to know that these teaching tips for preschool ESL classroom were helpful. If you'd like to ask a question, don't hesitate to do so :)

Michael 5 years ago

Great hub, thanks for sharing! Here in China, we teach English to both pre-school kids (aged 3-6) and elementary school kids (aged 7-12). Do you have any tips for us regarding teach English as a foregin language to school children?

ryse 5 years ago

i found your hub very useful.Now would you mind giving me some tips about teaching how to cross the road to children(3-4years)? help them memorize some words as stop,go,light,fast,slow....some kinds of activities i should do.

thanks a lot

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@Michael: It depends on the age, but you can do the things described in the hub with seven-year-olds, too. To come up with additional activities for older groups you should follow the student's book designated for each of the groups. I don't know whether the kids there start reading and writing in English at the same time, but if they do, you should often rewrite texts from the books in Word, print and cut out each of the paragraphs. Divide the class into groups and provide each group with a paragraph. Let them put the text together in a chronological order and ask each of the groups to explain the idea contained in the paragraph.

Kids usually find this fun; it's a simple activity which makes them think and move around at the same time.

When doing grammar exercises, do the same with sentences to explain each individual word in a sentence and its function.

This is the first thing that came to my mind, but I should write another hub on the subject because all the tips don't fit into a short comment :)

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@ryse: You can draw a few roads and crossroads on a huge piece of white textile and ask the kids to draw trees, plants, houses and other stuff around. Cut out three round colored pieces of paper and two man-like figures. Pick a few kids to play the role of traffic lights and let other kids play the role of car drivers and pedestrians.

Put the "road" on the floor and let everybody take their places. Explain that when you say "red light" and "green for pedestrians, etc." the kids holding those signs must put them up. Give instructions like "walk" and "stop." The kids will make mistakes in the beginning and bump into each other, but then make them all stop and start again until they do it right.

If you have a rug with roads and city infrastructure (many kindergartens do), let the kids use car toys, barbie dolls, and traffic toys for the same activity.

Another fun activity:

Put all the kids into a circle and explain what they should do if you say "walk slow" - "walk fast" - "run slow" - run fast." They'll make mistakes again so, those who do it wrong have to drop out of the circle. The kid who stays the last is the winner.

Hope this helps :)

moha 5 years ago

hello.i found your explanation so useful but i have a can i teach a 5 years old boy without spending my time? how a nonenglish preschool boy can learn english by himself? how should i provide a suitable environment for him?

thank you

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@moha: I guess the best thing would be to send the kid to an international kindergarten, but if you want your kid at home with you, then buy animated films for children or satellite programs showing English cartoons and let him watch them. Play English children's songs to him. This works for sure!

moha 5 years ago

you answer all questions quickly.i appreciate it

hope the best for you:)

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@moha: I hope the answer was helpful :) The only way I know children can learn a foreign language quickly is with the help of media - they have to hear the language and visualize what is being said. Cartoons and children's songs are adequate media forms for preschool age.

If there's anything else you'd like to know, don't hesitate to ask :)

amy farndale mujema 5 years ago

im a phd student studying teaching english to preschoolers. I believe in staying on topic, whether it be greetings, body parts, family names, colours, animals, school objects and asking questions... And immersing children in experiences which support a range of learning styles, physical, musical, linguistic/verbal, visual, auditory, artistic, tactile, social, intrepersonal... and combine them all. I have a great selection of picture books, songs/music, toys, puppets, activities (make playdough, cook food etc), art and craft experiences, science experiments, dress ups etc to reinforce a particular theme and vocabulary. And of course revisit prior learning to reinforce concepts. Good luck. It's the best job on earth in my opinion.

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@amy farndale mujema: I love the job, too :) Hopefully, I'll be able to do it again some day.

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jhosler 5 years ago

Very useful hub. Some great ideas here.

Christine Reyneke 5 years ago

I am going to teach English as a second language in Saudi-Arabia in a few weeks from South Africa. I am very excited an this is a real challenge! The children vary from 4 years up to adults. I need assistance and will surely use your comments. Thank you. Christine

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@Christine Reyneke: Good luck with the challenge :) I'm glad you found the information on this page useful. If you have questions or need a piece of advice, or you'd like to share your experience, you're welcome to come back and comment :)

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Bbudoyono 5 years ago

Useful hub for teacher. I voted it up.

PRIYANKA 5 years ago


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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@Priyanka: It's difficult because you have to animate children all the time and keep them interested, but if you like working with kids, it's a sweet "torture!" I'm glad these ideas are helpful to you :)

annabelle d. vega 5 years ago

I'm a high school teacher; however during Saturday I fave fun being with the children who need to enrich their skills, in my community. Your link is very useful. thanks! More power:0

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@annabelle d.vega: I've taught all levels and I must say that working with preschool children is really fun :) I'm glad you feel the same. Thanks for the comment! It's great that you found the article useful :) 5 years ago

I have liked your site but i would like to know the books we use for each theme you have mentioned and some other books for the other themes. I shall be very happy to receive a reply from you at the earliest.

Thanks and keep up the good work

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vox vocis 5 years ago Author

@matilda: There are different coursebooks you could use, for example, First Friends (American English or British English edition) by Susan Lannuzzi, Little Friends (British English course for pre-kindergarten) by S. Lannuzzi, Playtime by Claire Selby, Cookie and Friends (British English course for pre-primary) by Vanessa Reilly and Kathryn Harper, etc.

sul 4 years ago

hi lt's my first time here and i really appreciate your hub. I'm the manager of my new school and ur hub is a real help for me especially the tips, how to make the kids active by playing games with them.thanks alot and hope u will continue posting new ideas for us,

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@sul: Thanks for the comment. It's very appreciated. I'm planning to write more on this topic soon and even consider writing an eBook. Thank you for the motivation, too :)

Andrea! 4 years ago

I have a doubt, how can Iteach grammar to a group of 5 years old children without placing out the structure, for example how can i teach there is/ there are to my students?

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@Andrea: Of course, you can't teach those kids grammar, but if your goal is to teach them to produce sentences, such as "There is a boy in the garden" or "There are six apples in the basket" the best way is to demonstrate the facts and ask questions requiring such answers.

For example, you can use flashcards showing "where something or someone is" - following the given example, a drawing, photo or picture of a boy in a garden - and use this one sentence to describe where the boy is. You can cover "the boy" with your hand to explain the word "garden" and point to the boy to explain the word "boy".

In the second example, take a basket and toys representing apples (six), place the apples in the basket and put them on the table. Then say the sentence and point to the basket. Repeat these actions a few times, and then ask the children to repeat after you.

Don't expect them to learn this right away, but repeat the exercise every lesson for five to ten minutes (using different sentences), and after a few times they'll pick it up naturally. You'll know for sure whether they've learned this well if you use a picture with a lot of colorful content and ask them: "What is there on the picture?"

Hope this helps! If you still have questions, don't hesitate to get back to me. If you choose to do these exercises with kids, keep us informed about their progress. Thank you!

P.S. You'll point out that there is ONE boy, and SIX apples! Count with them, 1, 2, 3...6 because they'll be happy to repeat something they already know while learning sth new :)

akshita arora 4 years ago

i liked it a lot,this is really a very better way to teach and explain the basics to the children very well.

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@akshita arora: Thank you! If you're teaching English as a foreign language to preschoolers, you're welcome to share your ideas and observances here, too :)

eslinsider 4 years ago

This looks quite detailed. I like to use creative activities in my classes too. You'll find links to many activities and games for young learners here:

eslinsider 4 years ago

I also like how you have those little Youtube videos in there. I am going to try that out.

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

Your site is very interesting, eslinsider. One has to be creative with young learners otherwise they get bored or distracted very quickly :)

pipit 4 years ago

Wow, I really like your hub, you described everything clearly. Now, I need some resources and great books about the advantages and the purposes of teaching english in kindergarten. Hope you can help me, thanks :)

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

I will let you know soon, pipit! Expect to find the answer to your question in a couple of days. Thank you for asking!

Maria 4 years ago

Boring and not innovative.

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

Hi, Maria. Sorry you feel that way. Children like it, though, and they do learn a lot :)

kungster 4 years ago

Hi, I am teaching ESL in China for the first time. I have read your hub and have learned a lot and realizing how much I didn't know. With this realization, I like to get some pointers of teaching English as a secind language in China. ny feedback would greatly appreciation. Cheers, Kung

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

@Kung: I'm glad you've learned useful things from this hub :) Good luck with teaching English in China!

Helene 4 years ago

Thank you for all the tips, this is awesome! There are so many resources on the internet, but it's good to hear one experienced voice that puts it all together. New kindy teacher, scared but excited! :)

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vox vocis 4 years ago Author

Hi Helene! Thanks for the comment. No need to be scared, teaching kids is a wonderful experience!

BasiaEnglert 3 years ago


My name is Barbara Englert and I am a student of English Language in Poland. I am going to write my diploma about teaching English to very young learners. I will compare classes of English in kindergartens in different countries. That is why I would like to ask you for help. I would like to contact somebody who teaches English in kindergarten. I would appreciate it if you could reply.


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vox vocis 3 years ago Author

@Basia: I'm currently teaching English to ELL in Germany. What exactly is the title of your thesis? What information do you need?

CaseyT 3 years ago

@BasiaEnglert: I am currently teaching English to kindergarten in China, ages 2-6. I would be happy to help you.

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SpeakOutLanguages 3 years ago

I tried teachings kids....couldn't do it! I'm much better at teaching adults!

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vox vocis 3 years ago Author

@SPL: I love teaching kids, but it is easier to teach adults especially because you need a lot less preparation for the classes. Thanks for the comment :)

frere anak tom 2 years ago

-" play songs for them and take pauses between verses to explain the meaning of what they just heard."

NO! the language to explain simple childrens songs is often as difficult as the song itself. The function of music is to put the music of the language into the consciousness. This is missed by the majority of non-native teachers and a lot of native-speakers with a 4 week training.

Similarly, I would beware of using activities where the language of instruction is more complex than the task.

"''What's on the sky; ...." Nothing, I hope! What's on at the cinema? What is in the sky?

"It is already scientifically proven that children at this age actually have a strong potential to acquire almost an infinite number of new information" This is an important point but 'information' remains uncountable.

Here in Hanoi City we are even more radical; starting them off from toddler-time. Lots of songs and chants and tpr - no explanations; no translations and no pressure. [Truth to tell, most of the ELT for young learners here is archaic but we have the luxury of no state interference; no targets and no Michael Gove.

As I have never had the dedication or the 'cyber skills' necessary to do something similar, I salute you for this excellent document [What is a hub?].

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vox vocis 2 years ago Author

All the methods I've implemented and shared here in this article (hub) worked miracles for me and the kids who learned a second language in my class. They've really learned a lot. I've also noticed that when we don't translate a song, their pronunciation is bad and I don't like it when the kids don't understand what they articulate. The purpose of a language is to communicate and without understanding there's no quality communication. It's still interesting to hear about other experiences.

Cindy 2 years ago

Hi, I've been teaching English for 22 years now. Of course at university we learnt all the the methods you are writing about (TPR etc.), which I have used during my teaching. However, is your advice also directed at second language teachers who do not use the mother tongue during the lesson? Naturally, if I teach children with the same nationality as mine, it's very easy - I can explain everything in their mother tongue (instructions etc.). But what if you teach a child of a different nationality than yours? E.g. your advice - "Ask them to draw certain body parts" (or "Translate the song", "If the children don't know any of the words you teach them, teach them in their mother tongue first, then in English") - how do you ask a 4-year old who doesn't speak a word of English, or a word of your native language? And if, in addition, we are talking about a language school, where the kids only have a 45-minute class a week, it's a pretty tough task. I've taught a number of such kids and honestly, the approach had to be somewhat different. The kids don't understand you and being 4 years old, they get bored very soon. So it's a lot about gestures - first teaching them basic instructions (even that takes several classes) by showing them and encouraging them (again with gestures) to follow you. So most of the instructions must be shown rather than said. And the second main thing, which worked out for me was a role play. That's the only way the kids can grasp sentences. When I ask the child - "How are you?", he/she has no chance understanding and subsequently answering. If you act it with two toys, after few times they get it, then you give them one of the toys and try to do it with them while changing your and their voices. Don't get me wrong - I love your pages, but from practical point of view the methods are greatly applicable when teaching kids whose mother tongue you know, but for the opposite, they won't work for the first half a year, until the kids get at least a bit familiar with basic instructions and vocabulary. If you have any advice and approach methods for these types of students, I'd appreciate it.

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vox vocis 2 years ago Author

Hi Cindy, if you can't use the mother tongue of the children who you're teaching, the method of demonstration and the audio-visual method are the basic methods you'll use. I have taught both target groups and I can say that students who don't have a chance to hear the explanations in their mother tongue won't learn as much as those who have this chance and that's true for both kids and adults. I have learned German without the use of mother tongue or any other language that I understand and speak and although I have lived in Germany for almost five years now, I haven't learned the language well. The Germans are thrilled with my knowledge but since I speak three more foreign languages fluently and grammatically correct, I'm aware that this way I won't be able to properly learn the language. That's the disadvantage you must accept when learning and teaching a foreign language without the use of mother tongue. I've also noticed that there is a big difference between children of different nationalities, for example, the Italians have more difficulties learning English than Germans and Germans have more difficulties than Croatians. It would be nice if I could investigate the phenomenon scientifically. Thank you for you comment. If you have any other ideas or remarks, please share them with us :)

Zhanel Azhetova 19 months ago

Very good! Wonderful!

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