Teaching Language to Children Effectively (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second part of my lecture. I hope you learned something from the first. Today’s topic is about the children’s attention span and how it affects the teaching-learning process.

2. Attention Span
One of the salient differences among children and adult is attention span. First, it is important to understand what attention span means. Put children in front of a TV showing a favorite cartoon and they will stay riveted for the duration. Having said this, we could not say that children have very short attention spans. My son, in fact, can watch cartoon all day and he will just be glued to the tv. However, short attention spans do come into play when children have to deal with a material that to them is boring, useless, or too difficult. And since language lessons can at times be difficult for children, our job as educators is to make them interesting, lively and fun. But how do we do that? Here are some examples.

Because children are focused on the immediate here and now, activities should be designed to capture their immediate interest.
A teacher’s flexibility will be measured by this. Before starting my class, I observe the kids for a while and listen to their stories to their peers and whatever they talked about will be discussed in the classroom as a whole in order to prepare the attack for my day’s lesson. I give a no holds barred policy with this prerogative, when I said “whatever they talked about” I meant it literally so most of the time, before I start with my day’s lesson, we discuss what happened to Tom and Jerry in Cartoon Network and when the going gets tough, we also talk about the recent kidnapping or killing in our city (Yes, I know it’s morbid). So basically, I give them the assurance that I care about their views and opinions first so that when it’s my turn to share my own views, they will also listen.

A lesson needs a variety of activities to keep interest and attention alive.
A monotonous routine is a boring routine and kids don’t want that. Create games, contests, drills and visual aids that are appealing to your pupils.

A teacher needs to be animated, lively, and enthusiastic about the subject matter. Consider the classroom a stage on which you are the lead actor, your energy will be infectious. While you may think you’re overdoing it, children need this exaggeration to keep spirits buoyed and minds alert.
I have been told that teaching children requires all the aspects of your life: mental, physical, emotional etc. that is why the job description is hard because you have to be Dora the Explorer with a touch of Barney. You have to be animated. The words that you tell them needs to be emphasized a lot and you should have a loud voice that will shake their sleeping souls. If you think my description is very much exaggerated, well that’s because I am a teacher.

A sense of humor will go a long way to keep children laughing and learning. Since children’s humor is quite different from adults’, remember to put yourself in their shoes.
By having a sense of humor does not mean that you have to throw in jokes every now and then. Actually, in simple gestures like covering your nose and making a face whenever the kids raise their hands and say that their armpits stink will make the children roar with laughter. Kids are easier to please than adults but a teacher must be sincere because kids’ intuition in people is great. They can easily tell when a person is sincere or not.

Children have a lot of natural curiosity. Make sure you tap into that curiosity whenever possible, and you will thereby help maintain attention and focus.
The key: Don’t get tired of answering the kids’ questions no matter how silly they are. Also, when giving your day’s topic, don’t give the key answers right away, let them think on their own and encourage them to ask questions.

These concepts are based on H. Douglas Brown’s book entitled Teaching by Principles.
(tag: teaching principles, language, kids, TESL)


FickleMinded said...

lola! yung link mo from chismis today to techicardia, mali, pag click ko ang lumalabas, blogger not found.