Hello there and thanks for stopping by!
Let’s just say, it’s been a journey!
After spending all of January and February scrambling to up my game to suit Intermediate, Uppers and Advanced level speakers, I had a big shock when I was suddenly teaching a low Elementary class for 3 hours a day! It took me 2 days to slow down, simplify my language and adjust my patience levels.
I’d like to share some tips that I’ve picked up over the last few years, and especially recently as we’ve moved to teaching online.
Cut them some slack.
This is something that has been questioned many times, but I stand by it as this is how I’ve built rapport with almost all of my Elementary students.
Studying any language at a low level, can be extremely difficult. (A colleague once ran a CDP session by teaching us in Finnish! It was so cool, but so tiring!)
It’s exhausting, scary and sometimes embarrassing! Enforcing strict rules doesn’t often make this any easier.
Yes, it’s frustrating when students don’t do their homework and yes it’s worrying when they refuse to study but then blame you for their poor results on their tests. But at the end of the day, your students are still adults.
You cannot force them to do something they’re not willing to. You can only encourage them and hope that they’ll see the importance in what you’re asking them to do.
Have fun! (see my silly picture)
There is so much of the language to learn at this stage, but it’s important to focus on the main grammar points, key words and trying to improve the main skills without overloading students’ brains with too much information.
For me, it’s important to make the classes as positive as possible and for me that means:
- Using music
- Using short video clips
- Using pictures
- Playing games
- Doing (online) quizzes (Kahoot! Quizlet… or just make your own on PowerPoint!)
- Finding out about your students – use their interests to enhance your lessons and make them relevant.
Include short breaks
As I mentioned above, learning any language at a low level can be exhausting and just 5 minutes to grab a coffee and check Instagram can refresh your patience levels enough to continue for another 45 minutes. Plus, it shows your students that you’re human!
Have your own rules and be prepared to adjust them when necessary
Students at this level are more likely to speak in their first (or preferred) language if they have the opportunity, which can become an issue if it happens all of the time. Make sure you have a rule about this.
English only? Translation from L1 to English only? Occasional L1 allowed? That’s up to you, but remember how difficult it can be to understand so little of a language when it’s new. Can we really forbid them speaking their first language for 90 minutes? I don’t think we should.
Are they allowed to use their phones for translations?
Do they get one day a week without homework?
Are they allowed to be up to 5/10/15 minutes late for class? Why / why not?
My rules are usually:
- Students may use L1 and phones for translations, nothing else.
- Students can be 5 minutes late for class – no exceptions unless you’re taking a child to school.
- Students are allowed one excuse for not doing you’re homework, otherwise they have to go out and finish it before re-joining the class.
- Students may drink water, coffee, tea in the class and eat small snacks (not smelly, or noisy).
- Don’t speak when others are speaking – whether it’s a teacher or a student. Everyone must follow this rule, including the teacher!
These are just a few simple things that might help you when teaching an A2 level class, but I confess I am not an expert in anyway and am constantly looking for new ways to improve my lessons and my classroom management skills.
And by all means feel free leave me some suggestions of your own or get in touch with me over on Twitter
I hope you’re all safe, healthy and looking after your mental health x