Okay, let's get started. First up is preparation. I always write the lesson flow on the board so that I can just look over my shoulder to see what's next, rather than flicking through my notes, so here it is:
- Hello Song
- Basic Questions - name, age, favorites
- TPR (Total Physical Response)
- Alphabet - H, I focus
- Theme: Body Parts - Flashcards
- Textbook - draw body
- Games - Touch, Shoot the basket
- Story - From Head to Toe
- Song - Hokey Pokey
- Wrap-up & Good-bye Song
Before class starts, I write the names of the children on the board and give them all three points. I use these points at the end of the lesson to reward them on their 'stamp card'. They can get a maximum of four points each lesson. Next, I play the Hello Song in the background and greet the children and their parents outside the classroom.
1. Attendance. The kids come in, but Hiroki isn't here yet (typical!). I have them put their bags to the side and sit down on the mats. I pull out my attendance sheet and ask "Where's Naoko?" She raises her hand shouting "I'm here!" but I ignore her for the moment and ask Sayaka and Taichi in turn "Are you Naoko?" They laugh and reply "No, I'm not!" Then I ask where Naoko is again, and this time I accept Naoko's response and ask her "How are you?" she replies with "I'm fine." and I draw a little smiley face on the attendance sheet for her. I repeat asking where the children are in the same manner and when I get to Hiroki, I have the children chant "He's, not here! He's not here!" At that moment, in bursts Hiroki who throws his bag down and screams "I'm here!!!!"
2. Hello Song. We all stand up and march to the tune, waving our hands and pulling muscle-man poses when we sing "I'm fine". The kids are laughing and all is going well so far.
3. Basic Questions. I have the kids sit down facing the front while I stand up and ask "How are you?", "What's your name?", "How old are you?", "Do you like banana pizza?" (to laughs and 'yuck' faces) and "What color do you like?" For each question, I use gestures to indicate meaning and I help the kids answer by mouthing and whispering their answers to help them along. This whole section is done with the kids responding together. Next, I ask them individually, so I pull out my 'cow', a fluffy stuffed toy I use as a huge ball, and a bucket. I pick a kid randomly and ask one of the questions above. I help them answer it and toss them the 'cow' saying "Here you are." They reply "Thank you" and I respond "You're welcome". They throw the ball towards the bucket, I yell "mooooooo!" and catch the 'cow' in the bucket. I repeat the procedure with each child.
Problem: Hiroki is doing 'head-stands' while I ask the questions.
Solution: I ask him to sit properly and wave the board eraser over one of his points. He doesn't want to lose a point so he sits properly, and I rub him on the head.
4. TPR. We all stand up and I call "Attention! Salute!" The kids respond by standing up straight and raising their hand to their forehead. "Everybody, let's walk!" and we march around the room as I continuously call "Walk, walk, walk!" When I ask them to stop, we do the 'attention' thing again and repeat with run, jump, hop, swim, and crawl. Then we stand up and I call the following commands (doing the actions with the kids) "Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, jump, jump, jump, turn around, clap your hands, stomp your feet, brush your teeth, brush your hair, wash your hands, wash your face, clean your ears, blow your nose, rub your tummy and pat your head, shake, sneeze!" Then we go straight into the 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' song, lying on our backs for the second verse (causing the kids to lift their feet in the air so they can touch their toes - very funny!).
5. Alphabet. We're all pretty exhausted after that all that TPR, which Hiroki and Sayaka particularly enjoyed because of their kinesthetic and auditory learning styles. So, we all sit down on the mats again and I pull out the alphabet flashcards. Each card has a picture which corresponds to the letter on the card, e.g. A - apple. I go through the cards chanting the letters and words, using gestures and more importantly, rhythm. The kids chorus what I say and copy my gestures. Taichi's concentration is starting to drift, but I bring his focus back to the cards by chasing him with my hands clasped together mimicking a fish (teaching the F - fish card). I throw some questions in such as "O - orange, do you like orange socks?" The combination of rhythm, gestures and jokes get us through all 26 cards and we stand up to sing the song. I do the song, tapping various body parts along with the music - clap hands, tap head, knees and finally my bottom which the kids copy.
Problem: During the song, Naoko is looking bored, Taichi isn't singing and Hiroki is crawling under the table.
Solution: Whoosh! With no warning, all three of them lose a point. We start the song again and I ask for them to sing in a "big voice!" They rally together and sing their hearts out, and all win their points back for their efforts. High fives all round.
Today, we are focusing on H and I. Each child is given a copy of the H and I cards which they put on the floor in front of them. I call out a letter which they hit like a drum. "H, I, H, I, ... H, H, H, ... I, I, I, ..." etc. We finish with a rapid "HIIHIHIIHHIHIHI - whoooooo!!!!" which they enjoy.
6. Theme: Body Parts - Flashcards. There are three steps I follow when teaching vocabulary through flashcards - presentation, reception and production. We start with chorusing the cards, changing voice and pitch to make it more enjoyable. I ask the children "Okay?" They reply "Okay." I ask "Really?" and they do their muscle-man pose and in a deep voice answer "Yes." Next, I want to test how well they remember the cards with a receptive skills activity - one that doesn't require them to say the words, just recognize them. I put the cards on the floor and ask the kids to put their hands on their head. I call a body part card and the first kid to slam it wins it. Of course, Naoko gets the first card as always! We continue and I steadily move the cards away from Naoko and closer to the other kids - she doesn't seem to mind and enjoys the challenge.
Problem: Naoko and Taichi hit the right card at the same time. I get them to do Rock, Scissors, Paper and Naoko wins. Taichi is upset and doesn't want to play anymore.
Solution: I ask Naoko how many cards she has. Then I ask her how many Taichi has. She realizes that he doesn't have any and when I ask her if she wouldn't mind giving the card to Taichi, she agrees, gets a head rub, and Taichi is happy enough to continue.
For fun, when there's only one card left, I call out silly things like "pizza" or "banana" and they laugh as they hit the card by mistake. They count their cards and Naoko wins.
Problem: Hiroki didn't win so he throws his cards and one hits poor Sayaka in the face. She starts to cry.
Solution: I give Hiroki my angry face and take one of his points away. Now he's upset too, he didn't mean to hurt anyone after all. I ask him to say sorry to Sayaka which he does, and he gets his point back. I ask Sayaka if she's okay, and rub her head. She seems fine, so I offer to give her a point if she wants to continue. She does.
Next, I test their ability to say the words by using a game of 'Quick Flash'. I show them a card for a split second and see if they can say the word. They all start enthusiastically calling out the answers, but instead of rewarding the first person (which is usally Naoko) and risk the problems we just had, I decide it's best to say "Good job everyone!" each time they say the word.... and I keep the cards to myself.
7. Textbook. I pull out the little tables and ask each kid in turn which color chair they want (this usually appeases Taichi who can get pretty upset if he doesn't get the color he wants). I ask the children to get their books and crayons and we sit down at the table and turn to the page we are doing. After reviewing the language in the book, the kids can draw a body on the page. They make a start and go round helping them and asking them questions such as "What's this?" and "What color is it?" I notice that whereas Hiroki and Naoko are rushing ahead and have nearly finished already, the other two have barely started. Taichi is trying to sharpen his crayons while Sayaka is drawing the most amazing picture ever - but she's still only on the face!
Problem: So, half the class is nearly finished and the other half a way behind.
Solution: This is tricky. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten the kids to draw one body part at a time so we could have gone at the same pace, but too late for that now. Instead, when the first two have finished I will ask them to copy their names above their picture (that should slow them down!). Meanwhile I'll encourage the other two to speed up. If they don't catch up, I'll ask them to finish it at home.
8. Games. First, I line the kids up and call commands for them to follow. Since, we are doing body parts, I ask them to touch various body parts. If they make a mistake, they sit down. We play a few times so they still have a chance even if they lose early in the first round or two. Being a tactile learner, Taichi seems to be getting to grips with the vocabulary now that he's using real body parts. The next game is "What do you have?" I give Sayaka a body parts card and she holds it close to her chest so the others can't see. They all ask "Do you have (body part)?" and Sayaka answers "No, I don't" until someone gets it right. They love this game and they love 'being the teacher' at the front with the cards.
Problem: It's Hiroki's turn with the cards, and while the others call out body parts, I can't hear what Sayaka is saying over the noise.
Solution: I have the kids take turns to guess the card.
9. Story. In this fictional lesson I'm using the book 'From Head to Toe'. Naoko and Sayaka are very much into it, with their eyes glued on the book. I ask questions about the pictures they can see to get them involved with the story.
Problem: Hiroki, who can't sit still, is talking to Taichi and pinching him. Taichi isn't too happy about this, and Naoko is getting annoyed because she wants to listen to the story.
Solution: I pick up Hiroki and sit him on my lap and have him turn the pages of the book. He enjoys the attention, Taichi is no longer being pinched, and Naoko can focus on the book.
10. Song. While it was fun at first, Hiroki is desperate to get away from sitting on my lap so when we finish the book, I start the CD and we launch into the Hokey Pokey song to let off some steam. The kids have learned from previous lessons that this is their last chance to boost their points up to the maximum of four. They give it everything and they are all rewarded accordingly.
11. Wrap-up. To finish the lesson, the kids pull out their stamp cards and can choose which stamp they want. They count off the circles on their cards as they are stamped. The they go back to the mats, ready for the Good-bye song. We sing the song with gestures and at the end I pick each kid up high in the air so they can touch the ceiling - they love this! Finally, they line up at the door and I ask each of them a question about today's theme which they answer. Good-bye's all round and off they go.
The End. If you teach kids regularly, I hope you can relate to what you've just read. If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear from you. You can drop me an email from the contact page. If you are considering teaching ESL to kids, I hope this has given you an insight into what teaching children is all about!