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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 2nd, 2012, 08:23 am
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Default Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

Hey folks! I'm quite new with teaching, have only got 3 months experience. I am teaching in Beijing and never had any training. I'm teaching full-time in a kindergarten and recently took another part-time job in a training center.
I'm not doing well in the training center where I'm teaching kids between 3-11. Problem for me is that there are no lesson plans or anything to give some ideas. Especially teaching the kids between 3-6 is very hard as the material is pretty terrible and illogical (all the teachers think so). I have to teach these small kids sentences, but some pretty hard ones like "What a big box!" - "Guess what's in it?". This is what I mean by illogical. In the kindergarten the material is better and I teach things link "I like/I don't like..." and so on. Also, there is no phonics practicing or anything in the training center. Anyways, I have to teach this material, but I don't know how to handle teaching sentences. I don't find it so hard to teach words as it is pretty easy to play some fun games with flashcards and it is more tangible for such young kids. But when it comes to teaching these sentences I don't really know what to do which results in my lessons being pretty boring for these small kids. It just ends up in a lot of repeating, rewarding them when they can say a whole sentences like letting them throw a ball in a basket or something like that. I also let them perform the dialogs with puppets, that's as good as it gets. I haven't got that "creative mind" that you are supposed to have as a teacher and as mentioned I've never received any training, so my foundation is pretty bad. Therfore I could really use some advices, ideas, tools, games or whatever for this. Would be highly appreciated! I just really want to have that rewarding experience of super happy kids that don't want to leave the classroom when the lesson finishes, instead of feeling it was boring and uninteresting.

Also I would like to get some ideas on how to teacher the older kids between 8-11? Here they have a student's book and a workbook so we can do exercises. But also I find this pretty boring as the material is not the most interesting either and some of the things in the curriculum are pretty strange to be honest. For example last lesson I taught the 4th graders how to use "I didn't" and "I did". We do some sentence scrambling and they come up to the whiteboard and write a correct sentence and earns a sticker, but in the long run it's pretty boring. How should I approach this?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 4th, 2012, 05:16 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

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...I am teaching in Beijing and never had any training...
Can I suggest that you get some training? It really would be a good idea! I spent my first year without training and floundered badly; I went back and did a TEFL course and suddenly realised where I'd been going wrong.

We can suggest a few ideas on how to make your class teaching better but to be honest if you did a TEFL course it would all fall into place and you'd not only get ideas to make one or two classes better but you'd also find it makes your whole teaching life and style better.
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Unread Dec 4th, 2012, 06:12 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

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Can I suggest that you get some training? It really would be a good idea! I spent my first year without training and floundered badly; I went back and did a TEFL course and suddenly realised where I'd been going wrong.

We can suggest a few ideas on how to make your class teaching better but to be honest if you did a TEFL course it would all fall into place and you'd not only get ideas to make one or two classes better but you'd also find it makes your whole teaching life and style better.
I'm simply not in a position right now where I can set off time for a course like that. There must be other ways to do it. I've just been in contact with my agent to ask if he had some good and experienced teachers whose lessons I could go and watch. It seems there is a possibility. That's at least a place to start.
When I first took off to China knowing I would go there to teach I thought it would be a piece of cake, but I soon realized that it's harder than you think, especially when you're not provided with lesson plans and other material to make a foundation for your lessons. At the moment I don't find any joy in teaching as I'm not satisfied with my own performance and the results of my teaching, but it's hard for me to see what I'm doing wrong. However, I refuse to give up.

ICAL_Pete, may I ask on which major points you realized you had been going wrong? "Newbie mistakes" or whatever you might call it.
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Unread Dec 4th, 2012, 08:33 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

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I've just been in contact with my agent to ask if he had some good and experienced teachers whose lessons I could go and watch. It seems there is a possibility. That's at least a place to start.
Fair enough. But only if these teachers are good!

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However, I refuse to give up.
Good for you!

ICAL_Pete, may I ask on which major points you realized you had been going wrong? "Newbie mistakes" or whatever you might call it.[/quote]

It's almost impossible to say without seeing you in action (can you record a lesson and post it online?). But here are a few common newbie mistakes.

When you think about the sentences you have to give, the first thing is to make them relevant. Put them in context in other words. It's hard to know exactly without knowing what you're supposed to teach them (which, of course, may be pretty poor quality stuff; we sometimes have to teach using poor materials). Try though to make everything relevant to the kids. Keep it really simple; lots of repetition of course and keep each activity to about 5 minutes or so - young learners have much shorter attention spans.

Remember as well to get the students to do the work. How much time are you spending talking when the students could be talking instead? Teacher Talking Time: Teacher Talking Time

Are you giving them long explanations and instructions? Do they understand when you talk to them? If not, why not? Giving Instructions in class: Giving Instructions

Here is a place to start.

Teaching English to Young Learners: TEYL

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I'm simply not in a position right now where I can set off time for a course like that. There must be other ways to do it.
You could always try online courses like the ones we run!
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Unread Dec 4th, 2012, 11:09 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

Thanks for your reply! However, that TEYL link doesn't work?
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Unread Dec 20th, 2012, 01:31 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

In the absence of formal training right now, here are just a couple of little tips that might help you survive until you can get some.

1. Lesson Planning - despite what colleagues may say, plan every lesson rather than trying to wing it. You should choose one or two clear language objectives from the material you have to work with, then plan a series of activities that satisfies those objectives.

2. variety - try to set up your lessons so that there is a variety of different types of activities. Drilling, worksheets etc can be mixed with more communicative game-like activities as well as songs and chants to allow you to repeat material without your learners getting bored.

3. reflection - once a lesson is done you aren't finished. Try to make some notes for yourself on what went well and what didn't, where learners responded and where they didn't. It helps to set you up for the next lesson.

That's just scratching the surface. As others have already said, if you are serious about teaching in the long term, get some proper training as soon as it is feasible.

Chris Patton
Academic Support Coordinator
EF Swara Group
Director of Studies
EF BSD City
Jakarta, Indonesia
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Unread Dec 20th, 2012, 03:27 am
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

Thanks a lot for the tips. Great to get some actual advices.

I attended a couple of teachers' classes last Sunday and it has changed quite a lot for me already. This was the first time I saw other ESL teachers in action. So I took in all the tips I got from them and tried to implement it in my lessons this week and it helped a lot. Of course things are not perfect yet, but it has changed things strikingly.
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Unread Feb 9th, 2013, 10:13 pm
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Default Re: Don't know how to make my lessons fun and interesting

For those ones below 6 it's like baby sitting. A lot of things you might actually be ignoring count.
1. Your dressing. Make it as colorful as you can. Get a funny bag with lots of fun things in it: masks, toys, dolls, bells, whistles, etc.
Train the kids to know that bag has a lot of fun things inside. Don't throw everything out as you begin the class. Use them for games, contests, discipline, grading, etc. I taught in a kindergarten 8years ago and we had a dressing room at school with tons of fun things to put on. It really gets the kids to stick with you as much as you want. If your school doesn't have such materials I guess you will have to spare a few RMBs to get some things that can help you be a great kindergarten teacher. I repeat, it is not much different from baby sitting.
2. Songs songs songs songs and songs. Turn everything into a song. Even good morning, make it sound musical. Goodbye. Learn how to say goodbye in like five different tones.
3. Replace most of your talking with grimace / gestures / movements and you will find that your students will find your lessons more interesting.
Like I said that was a long time ago and was a lot of fun to me. Now I have to deal with university students who spend most of their time asking me whether I have a girlfriend or not.
Good luck mate
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