My last post was a skype conversation with YL newbie Anne. Keeping with my theme of nosing around in other peoples YL world
, this time I spoke via email with experienced YL teacher, IH CYLT Tutor and Rat (and all round animal) lover Cesca K.
How long have you been teaching Young Learners?
This is my eighth school year – I spent a couple of years in Poland and have been in Prague ever since. I worked with young people as a volunteer in M.I.N.D (a mental health charity in the UK) before going into teaching.
What is your favourite age group to teach? Why?
Although I like teaching VYL, I would say my favourite age group is 8-12. They are young enough to still be keen but old enough to be able to produce some amazingly creative and imaginative work.
You were one of the first people to choose YL for DELTA. What were the biggest challenges for you?
Resources. I found that most YL books were aimed at new teachers and thus I found it hard to find quotes to back up my justifications for what I was doing in the classroom. I also found it hard at times to ‘tick’ all the boxes as far as Cambridge were concerned but my tutors were very supportive and I got there in the end!
Do you have a favourite lesson up your sleeve for emergencies?
Not really – I have a lot of books and games to turn to if it’s a real emergency and I don’t have any planning time.
I know you have a particular interest in getting kids writing. Have you got any tips you can share?
I think the biggest problem in teaching YL writing skills is that they tend to see it as a punishment. Once you make the process fun, even the most reluctant students tend to get into it. I found that using resources designed for primary schools works well – so the students really get the chance to plot out the stories and to find new and exciting language to use (there’s some really helpful stuff on www.primaryresources.co.uk) Sometimes you’ll need to grade the language on the worksheets to make it more accessible to ESL students. I also find that giving students a reason for writing helps – they don’t want to spend hours on something that gets shoved at the back of their folders – offer to publish them in the school magazine or website.
What websites do you like to use with your classes?
I love www.toondoo.com – creating cartoons that can be used to revise pretty much any language point and I use www.eslgamesworld.com as a treat for my classes every couple of months, there are lots of interactive games you can use with the whole class.
Question to all. Do you do writing with your YLs? Do they find it a chore/ punishment? What do you do in class to get them writing? Leave your comments below.
Big thanks to Cesca for letting us see a snippet of her YL world.
Until next time….