Exploiting kindergarten material

By Yolande Deane
DELTA qualified EFL teacher with 5 years’ teaching experience

Exploiting kindergarten material

The situation

I am now teaching kindergarten in the north of China, which I am enjoying, but what I have had to get used to is teaching to quite a strict syllabus. In London I was teaching adults and I was given free reign as to when I taught my students, particular language points and for how long.  In kindergarten we spend a week teaching one learning point, for example, I may teach the letters J, K and L for one week along with actions and chants, or, we may just repeat a dialogue.

Squeezing out the last drop

Despite the high tolerance young learners have for repetition, there is still a want on my part to try and be more creative within these constraints.  I do not have easy access to printers or a laminating machine, all of which I am sure can be obtained in China, but when you are still finding your feet in a new country, it is not always obvious where you buy these things.

Luckily, I had armed myself with four different coloured permanent markers before I Ieft London for China. When I arrived in the town where I now teach,  I made sure I knew where I could buy a pack of printing paper, so, I can now make extremely simple flashcards.  I consolidate chants by copying the chants onto the paper and cutting them up, the children then put them in order, this adds some essential physical movement to the lesson. They are most likely just beginning to learn to read in their own language, so I do not expect them to necessarily start reading English, but with the constant repetition and pictures as clues, some of them begin to make connections and put them in the correct order.

If they have been learning certain letters of the alphabet I cut out the letters and stick them on card, hide one of them around the room and instruct one or two of the children to search for it. This can go on for a good five to ten minutes and they can become quite raucous while doing it.  Creating alphabet flashcards is another easy way I have found to exploit simple chants; I give out the letters and call out letters of the words that are in the chants we have learnt. This reinforces the words and pronunciation, it also breaks up the monotony of repetition. Teaching kindergarten with limited English language resources can be frustrating, and when you are expected to teach within a framework, which may not be very flexible, I have discovered that I have had to exploit the content to the maximum.

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