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  • A teacher with young students sitting at a table looking at flashcards
    • Teaching trends and techniques
    • Language teaching

    Effective classroom management routines for very young learners

    By Jeanne Perrett
    Reading time: 4 minutes

    For very young learners, children aged 3-6, being in a classroom might be a completely new experience. Most of them won’t know any English words at all and might have very little idea of what English is or why they are learning it. Some of them may not yet be completely fluent in their mother tongue. 

    At the beginning of the school year, some of them may find it distressing to be separated from their parents and they also have to learn to get along with their new classmates. 

    If we want to keep them comfortable and safe and provide a friendly and welcoming environment, we need to establish routines. 

    7 ways you can build routines into your classes

    Here are some areas where you can easily incorporate classroom management routines into your English language class.

    1. Think about your target language

    Our target language for each lesson may be one or two short phrases or a few new words. We should always keep the presentation and practice of this simple and clear. 

    However, we can use English for all our greetings, praise, instructions and explanations. After a few days, the children will begin to expect it and they will gradually understand what you are saying. 

    2. Coming into the class

    Take time to greet each child by name when they enter the classroom and encourage them to learn and use each other’s names too. This will change how they perceive themselves and each other and encourage friendly communication. 

    Notice the small things about each child. They might have a new T-shirt on or have done their hair specially. They may not tell you that they have made an effort to look nice for their lesson, but they will be pleased when you notice and will feel encouraged to continue. 

    3. Circle time

    Make circle time the start of every lesson. It gets the children sitting down together and this helps them to get to know each other and feel part of a comfortable group. 

    It’s the time where you present the target language for the day. Use a puppet to help you do this. Make the puppet part of the routine by keeping it in a certain place and bringing it out from there every day. The children can call its name. 

    The puppet can greet the children by name and the children can answer back. First, use picture cards or objects to present the language to the puppet. Then, the puppet can show that it understands or ask for repetition. 

    Let the children call out responses as a group. As they build their confidence in English they will want to speak by themselves. 

    Always accept approximations of words and phrases. Rather than correcting the children, continue to model the words and gradually the students will self-correct. Pass this tip on to parents too. 

    4. Book time

    Give students time to discover pages and images they like in the books they are using. Always leave time to help each child find the correct page and then help them to focus their attention on that page. 

    In Circle time you have introduced the language and presented it with flashcards or objects. In Book time, children can look at these images – the content will be familiar and they will start to feel ownership of what they are learning. 

    5. Songs, games and miming

    Singing, playing games and miming are the main ways in which the students will start to freely use and show they understand the target language. 

    In My Disney Stars and Friends each stage of every game is detailed, along with the language you and the students can use. Students might become so involved in the action of the game that they forget to speak in English! That’s okay – continue using the language and eventually they will start to use it too. 

    When a game or a song involves physical activity, have drinks of water ready and let them rest and relax afterwards. Always have a ‘sitting down’ activity ready for them to move on to so that they do not become overexcited or tired.

    6. Craft and stickers

    For any craft work there are four stages: preparation, production, playing with the completed craft work and tidying up. If you're using My Disney Stars and Friends, there is a special Tidy Up song and all the craft projects are press-outs so there is no need for scissors. 

    Children of 3 or 4 years old will need to learn how to unpeel and then re-stick a sticker. Allow time for this and encourage them to learn from each other once some of them have mastered this fine motor skill. 

    7. Leaving the class

    Time your lessons so that the students don’t have to leave in a rush. It takes them a while to collect up their things and find their bags and coats. 

    If you want the parents to know something, make sure that the children know where they have put the note. One notebook for such messages is a simple way of doing this, and you can tell parents to check it after every lesson. 

    Just as you greeted each child by name when they came in, say goodbye to them individually as they leave. 

    Incorporating effective classroom management routines makes young learners feel more comfortable as they know what to expect from their language classes. Familiarity is welcome for children, so exploit these times for more language learning opportunities. 

    Find more ideas on effective classroom management routines in Jeanne Perrett’s webinar, where she focuses on practical ideas and teaching tips for how we can organise and manage a class of young learners.

  • A woman stood in a square, holding a map looking around
    • Just for fun
    • Language hints and tips

    Essential English phrases to blend in like a local on your holiday

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 5 minutes

    Summer has arrived and you might be gearing up for a holiday soon. Knowing some of the local language is always helpful, but to genuinely speak like a native English speaker, you must grasp and use common phrases and idioms that locals employ in daily conversations. Native English speakers have a natural command of these phrases, whereas non-fluent speakers often need to study and practice them to achieve fluency.

    In this blog post, we’ll delve into essential English phrases that will help you sound more like a local and less like a tourist.

  • A business woman sat at a table in a office writing notes
    • Business and employability
    • Language learning

    Hard skills vs. soft skills: The impact of language learning

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    Hard skills and soft skills play a crucial role in defining career success and progression. The difference between hard skills and soft skills is that hard skills are teachable, technical, measurable abilities specific to particular jobs, while soft skills are more interpersonal, universal and related to personality traits. While hard skills refer to the technical knowledge and specific abilities required to perform a job, soft skills are more intangible. They encompass the interpersonal attributes and personality traits that enable individuals to communicate effectively, work collaboratively and adapt to changes in the workplace environment.

    In this blog post, we will explore how learning a new language can significantly enhance both hard and soft skills, making you a more versatile and effective professional in today’s multifaceted work environment.

    Understanding the balance of hard and soft skills

    Hard skills might get your foot in the door, showcasing your qualifications for a position. Developing hard skills to stand out from other job seekers is crucial; take advantage of classes, webinars and workshops offered by your current employer to develop hard skills and learn new technical skills. Examples include proficiency in a particular software, certification in a specific field, or mastery of a technical domain. However, it’s the soft skills, such as effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking and emotional intelligence, that propel you through the door and into the realms of career advancement. Recent research underscores the growing importance of English proficiency as a pivotal element in this dynamic, equally vital for enhancing both sets of skills.

    What are examples of soft skills?

    Soft skills encompass a wide range of attributes that can significantly impact workplace efficiency and harmony. Examples of essential soft skills include:

    Communication: The ability to convey information clearly and effectively is paramount. This includes both verbal and written communication, as well as active listening skills.

    Teamwork: Collaborating well with others, often with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, to achieve common goals.

    Problem-solving: The capability to analyze situations, identify problems and devise effective solutions.

    Adaptability: The readiness to adjust to new conditions, workflows, or technologies, demonstrating flexibility in the face of change.

    Critical thinking: The process of objectively analyzing information to make informed decisions.

    Emotional intelligence: The ability to understand, manage and utilize one's emotions constructively while also recognizing and influencing the emotions of others.

    What are examples of hard skills?

    Hard skills are quantifiable, teachable abilities specific to a job or industry. These skills are typically acquired through formal education, training programs and practical experience. Some examples of essential hard skills include:

    Computer programming: Proficiency in coding and programming languages, such as Python, Java, C++, or HTML/CSS is crucial for software development and web design roles.

    Data analysis: The ability to interpret complex data sets using tools like Excel, SQL, or R, providing valuable insights and informing decision-making processes.

    Graphic design: Mastery of design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, enabling the creation of visual content for various media.

    Foreign language proficiency: Fluency in a second language can be an asset in international business, for example, in translation services or customer support roles.

    Project management: Knowledge of project management methodologies (e.g., Agile, Scrum) and tools (e.g., Microsoft Project, Jira) to plan, execute and oversee projects effectively.

    Technical writing: The skill of crafting clear, precise documentation and instructional materials, essential in industries such as engineering, IT and pharmaceuticals.

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