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Challenges in Teaching English as a Second Language to Young Learners

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    Challenges in Teaching English as a Second Language to Young Learners

    Admin - Jan 29 2016

    Teaching young learners English as a second language has a number of challenging aspects that are rarely encountered in teaching English to older children and adults. Younger children are restless and may not give their teacher their full attention which makes learning new vocabulary and grammar very difficult.

    Younger children often have very little reason or need to learn a foreign language.  They might only want to learn English because they like the teacher or the learning activities. Compared with adults who have clear reasons for learning the language, motivating young children quickly becomes one of the main tasks of a teacher so that young learners are eager to try and use the new language.

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    Children are at the mercy of their emotions. Because they are still developing how to manage and regulate their feelings, they often lose control of their behavior when they feel strong emotions like anger or excitement. They often lose interest quickly in the things they are doing if they are restless. Adults will usually try to hide their boredom in class but children don’t have the same filter. When they’re bored, kids will go around the classroom, disrupting other children. This has a huge impact on classroom management and teachers will have to carefully manage children’s behavior.

    Children have a strong instinct to learn through experience and activity. Children love to touch and play with objects like building blocks. In language learning, this means that children are more likely to learn through activities that require them to feel rather than being taught formally. For example, when children participate in a game and follow instructions, they are already involved in understanding the language used. Guiding children’s play will help teachers achieve the maximum learning curve for their young students. Children often learn from experience and teachers should take this into account when constructing their lesson plans for young learners.

    Teachers should also remember that children give more attention to understanding and making sense of things. When presented with a new situation such as a television show, kids will try to work out what’s going on, using visual cues and previous experiences. They don’t pay much attention to the words, which is very different from adults and teenagers who are more interested in the language itself.

    There are many challenges when teaching young children. However, young children are also imaginative, and they respond well to rewards from teachers and are less shy than older learners. To teach children effectively, educators need to take into account these positive traits and nurture them while trying to curb unruly behavior.


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