ESL Exercises – Learning In English Can Be Made Easy For Kids!

Learning English can be easy – in fact it’s child’s play, literally!

Any child can learn a second language or multiple languages through great ESL exercises. There are many statistics and studies that show that childhood is in fact this is the best time to learn. When children develop multiple language skills at an early age this skill becomes instinctual, which means that it is so much easier to learn additional languages as an adult.  Speaking multiple languages can benefit your child’s life in so many ways:

* It can give them the chance to express themselves creatively in a number of languages,
* It can give them better chances to explore this wonderful world and
* You can also be giving your child multiple career opportunities otherwise unavailable to them

Here are some ESL exercises to make learning English easy for your child:

The Belly Button Book
Image by Maia C via Flickr

* Read to your child in English language at bed time. Finding books with simple language and vocabulay is key. Make sure you are not overwhemlming your child. Simple vocabulary learnt every day will keep English accessible and fun for your child. Use books with lots of pictures. Kid’s love visual learning and there are some great books out there which will give you tips on how to teach English to your child.

* Find basic English language games with lots of dancing, jumping and singing. You know the way your child likes to learn so try and pick a game which suits them best. There are tons of games on line and remember you can adapt any of them to suit your needs. The only thing to look fo is lot’s of physical activity. Learning English can be fun!

* Introduce simple words into daily use. For example chair, table, plate, fork. Get your child used to speaking in English. Make it as relaxed as possible. Remember most of the issues we have when we get older with learning languages is actually the fear we have that languages are difficult. Kids do not have that, so take advantage of this fact.

Studies have shown that there are tons of reasons to make sure your child is bilingual. Children that speak multiple languages have been shown to be more flexible and creative with language in all their languages. Also, it has been shown that it each language your child uses actually uses a different part of their brains. Remember your child’s brain is a muscle, the more they use it, the better it gets. This is why bilingual children have performed better in lateral and logical thinking that their monolingual peers. They also have been shown to be better at multi tasking and verbal and non-verbal tests. And these are the pluses without all the economic, cultural and social benefits your child will enjoy in later life.

So, make a great decision for your child and its future. Use ESL exercises and English language games to give your child the best chance in life!

English Teaching Materials – Tips for Getting the Most Out Of Your Lesson

The fantastic thing about the internet is that is has brought English teaching materials to anyone that needs them. There are so many great English language games and other ESL beginner materials out there sometimes the only difficulty is knowing which one to choose from!

So you have some fantastic materials, but how do you use them to their best advantage?

How do you make the most out of your materials?

There a few easy and simple ways to make the most from your materials and to sky rocket the retention rates and fun in your ESL classes. Here are a few to start off with:

Through The Eyes Of A Child
Image by ex_magician via Flickr

1. Do you remember your favorite teacher at school… the teacher that you really looked forward to being taught by? Most of us do and it was not always the teacher of our favorite subject or the one you were especially good at. That teacher was just fantastic at identifying with his / her students. They made a connection with you and it made the experience so much more enjoyable. So, this is the first trick to being the best ESL teacher possible. This is especially important if kids have a preconceived notion that learning English is difficult or if they live in a country where teachers are usually quite authoritarian. You will see fantastic results.

2. Get the kids moving! Usually called total physical response, this is the recognition that kids have pretty short attention spans and will not sit around for hours and retain information (few adults can either). This is why English language games that have kids jumping, dancing and basically just moving their bodies are so great and so effective. These types of games have been shown in studies to improve retention rates hugely – up to 80% – which is way higher than a lecture style method of learning.

Happy Children Playing Kids
Image by epSos.de via Flickr

3. Recognize that kids have different learning styles. Kids are just like adults in the fact they learn in different ways. Some are logical thinkers and so will love any type of pattern based activity. Others are musically minded and so respond to songs. Others respond to reading and writing. I always include a craft time at the beginning of any game as so many kids are great at practical leaning and really respond with enthusiasm. There are so many English language games and other materials that incorporate these different types of learning. You can always adapt whichever game you find to include a few more as well!

So when you are choosing your English teaching materials, remember the most important element is fun! Focus on materials that allow lots of movement and keep energy levels high. If you are going to choose text books, make sure they allow interaction within the class, rather than just repetition. I guarantee that the more movement, laughter and interaction you have in your class, the more rewarding the experience will be for you and your kids!

ESL Beginners – How to Teach English to Children

I think two of the biggest mistakes people make when teaching kids in ESL beginners classes is forgetting that kids are kids and not mini-adults or, treating children as one unit rather than individual characters! In other words, many teachers either forget that small kids do not have the longest attention span and try and teach them from a text book. Or, forget that kids have different learning styles in the same ways that adults do and end up choosing a “one size fits all” approach.

ESL beginners
ESL beginners - make learning fun with games

Here are a few simple methods to use when teaching ESL children to keep the kids learning and happy!

  1. First of all patience is key when teaching a new subject to kids.  They do not have the longest attention span and its best to recognize this in your planning. Rather than get sidetracked by their short attention span, focus on the fun stuff! Kids are like sponges, they learn so quickly AND they learn directly so, fun games are the best way to go!
  2. When you are planning your English language games, try and develop them on multiple levels. Kids are like us adults, different learning styles suit different kids. Some kids love reading and writing, others like dance or music and some love to spot patterns. The great thing with English language games is that you can include all of these aspects and make the game fun for everyone.  A great example of this is: if you have a kid that loves reading, get them to read out questions to other children, or write out the scores. For a kid that likes patterns, have them match a color and a shape within the game. There are so many options to choose from!
  3. This may seem obvious, but keep the energy levels of the class up. This is why ‘text book only’ language learning never works for little kids (or anyone if you ask me!). Kids have short attention spans and lose energy unbelievably quickly. Watch what happens to kids in a class room if you don’t use activities and give them a chance to move, all the enthusiasm for learning just gets sucked out of them.
  4. Remember that you are asking kids to relate to something entirely new. Try putting the lesson in the context of their daily lives. If you are in a country where fishing is a key industry, include fishing elements within your activities.
  5. Last, but not least, encourage kids to laugh at their mistakes and acknowledge they are not perfect. One of the biggest barriers to anyone learning a language is being afraid of making mistakes. If you remove this problem from the equation learning a language is so much more fun. You need to be even more aware of this if you are teaching in a country where it is not the norm for kids to ask questions of authority figures.
So enjoy these 5 quick and easy ways to guarantee your ESL beginner classes are fun and successful. There are tons of examples of English language games out there on the internet so just Google them and adapt them to your lesson plan! Have FUN and keep PLAYING!!

English Language Games – 4 variations to Head and Shoulders

English language games for ESL children

I love taking traditional English language games for ESL children and creating new variations and putting a new twist on them! I don’t think I need to repeat how important repetition is but just in case, I’ll repeat that repetition is extremely important when learning a new language! Hearing and saying the vocabulary in different ways can really improve and increase the speed at which children learn.  So here are some variations I thought of to one of the most common children’s songs – Head and Shoulders!

It’s hard to explain in detail all these ESL exercises and songs in writing so I’ve made a video of each of the variations mentioned so that you can get a better idea of the rhythm and actions for each one – ENJOY!!

Variation 1: “Head and Shoulders” (the original!)

Start by teaching the original song head and shoulders. There are a few different approaches that you can use to get them going on this song. You can say each body part and have them repeat each word after you say it. Then slowly sing the song and have them join in as much as they can. Then divide in groups and have the boys sing and girls listen, then switch, each time emphasising the words “boys / girls” and “listen / sing” – this gives them a chance to perform and also to hear each other sing!

Variation 2: “I love my body”

This first variation is called “I love my body” and follows the same order of body parts as Head and Shoulders, for example: “I love my head… I love my shoulders… I love my knees… I love my toes… etc.” They would still point to that body point while singing, but the rhythm is much slower so they have a bit more time to really think about what they are saying.
I also strongly believe in teaching kids from a young age to LOVE and appreciate themselves just as they are, so that’s why I really try to emphasize the importance of loving oneself whenever I can! Just to top it off, I end the song with “I LOVE ME!!” and give myself a big-bear-hug! I always exaggerate my self-bear-hug because it gives the kids permission to do the same, and I really want to get the message across that it’s OK for them to LOVE themselves!!

Variation 3: “Good morning body”

Another variation of the song is what I like to call “Good Morning Body”. Hopefully you’ve already introduced that phrase with a “Good Morning song” to start the day off with. Start with your head and say “Good Morning head” while rolling in circles and stretching. You can get them to repeat after you. Work your way down the body parts saying Good Morning to each of them one at a time while moving and stretching that body part.

Not only does this help repeat the vocabulary it also helps them get their bodies moving and learning to enjoy exercising and stretching. You can also start introducing other body parts that aren’t in the original song.

Variation 4: “Shake, Shake my body”

Last but not least is “Shake, Shake my body”! This is a really FUN game that gives kids permission to be crazy and move their body how ever they wish! Again, start with the head (always start with the head and work your way down the body – it keeps it consistent with all the other variations of the song). As the title implies, you start by shaking your head and singing “shake, shake, shake… shake, shake my head… (x2) …FREEZE!” and when you call out “FREEZE!” that have to freeze in whatever position they end up in.

It almost turns into a dancing game and you’ll see the kids loosen up and shake their bodies more freely. After you’ve individually shaken all the body parts separately, that’s when it really gets fun and you “shake, shake my body!” – everything at once! It’s worth it just to see the kids moving freely and having permission to do so – how many times do they get told to ‘sit still and don’t move’ in their lifetime? I just want to give them a chance to move freely… and just BE KIDS!

English Language Games – My Source of JOY!

ESL ChildrenThis is my story of finding JOY by teaching kids English language games and finally doing what I LOVE and am PASSIONATE about… 6 years later! Why on earth did it take this long for me to realize that I have a great gift to offer to this world? Anyways, this isn’t a story about self-realization, it’s a story of following your heart…

It was 6 years ago that I met my husband in Switzerland while I was working as an au pair for a wonderful Swiss-french family. I absolutely LOVED taking care of those two precious children and playing with them. As a going away gift to them, I made a scrapbook of all the activities we did together that year and I even created a CD of music and songs that I sang with them! (Nothing professional of course, just me singing off-key on a microphone – but it was the thought that counts! I’m actually listening to it right now to get inspired to write this!)

It was then that my husband realized my great LOVE for children and asked me why I didn’t go into some career related to kids – I was a lost soul at the time and was searching for direction. As a professional procrastinator, I replied “I would LOVE to do that… but… maybe in 5 years!”

Well it’s now “5 years later” and he held me to my word. It’s funny how we can be conditioned to fear what we love most in life or to be afraid of failing at what we do best – ah, yes… the human condition! Anyways, here I am 5 years later finally doing what I LOVE and am PASSIONATE about and that is teaching kids – more specifically teaching ESL children with FUN English language games and playing with them while they learn! It’s an amazing feeling to see their eyes light up when they learn something new!

I have to admit, I was very resistant to my husband’s idea of setting up a blog (I kicked and screamed and made up every excuse possible not to do it!) but in the end I have him to thank for the encouragement to go ahead with it – and it was also him who set it up and said “stop procrastinating and just do it – you can’t wait another 5 years this time!!” 🙂

I’m currently volunteering at a local kindergarden in Honduras and teaching kids through English language games and other FUN ESL exercises that I’ve either found online or made up myself.  So I’m setting out to share my JOY with the world and I hope these ideas and games will prove valuable to you and all the beautiful children you are blessed to teach!

With much LOVE and big SMILES… keep PLAYING and LEARNING!