In this article we will take a look at some basic methods you can use to teach your children’s English classes for 10 to 12-year-old students. These classes are very common in English conversation schools as well as many elementary schools. Younger children’s classes mostly involve introducing key points and then practicing those key point using games and activities. Teenager classes also use games and activities but not to the same extant. Teenager classes have more textbook use, example conversations, more reading, more writing and homework. What we need to try to do with the 10 to 12-year-old children classes is create a bridge between the younger children’s classes that mainly revolve around games and the teenager classes that are more similar to adult classes. This is the challenge for these ages. As you read on you will see that the lesson plans and activities that we use in these classes are a bit of a hybrid between the younger children and the teenager’s classes.
Objectives (What you will teach)
What English skills you teach are going to often depend on the country you are teaching in and the students you are teaching. Many parents from countries such as Japan and Korea will send their children to English conversation schools to focus more on listening and speaking skills. These parents often will send their children to other tutors to focus on grammar, reading and writing that are necessary for the countries various standardized high school and college entrance tests.
In the cases where you are not specifically told to only teach one skill or another it’s best to include all aspects of English in your lesson plans. Of course this means speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. It is also important to start to introduce some very basic and simple conversations. The basic idea is that they have learned various sentence structures, phrases and replies over the last couple years. Now they need to learn how to use everything in a simple conversation.
For any age group, review is extremely important. This includes the 10 to 12-year-old student that you will teach in this class. The basic principles apply to this age range as it does to any others. Introduce a game or activity that is generally simple and focused. Then the second time you play the game or activity add a little complexity to it. In the third and fourth time you play the game add even more complexity. While you might be doing this with more games in the younger classes you still will be using this basic idea for any activity that you do with your 10 to 12-year-old students.
Another area where you have to think about the progression of your lessons is with writing and reading. Let’s be honest here, teaching writing and reading is not easy. It takes a long time. We have to start with basic letters and the sounds that they make. Then move on to simple three letter words. Then move on to simple sentences. And eventually short reading passages. When you do insert a writing activity or reading activity into your lesson plan, be very aware of what you are teaching. Don’t randomly choose writing and reading activities that don’t have a clear progression to them. It makes no sense to have an activity where the students need to read a full-length sentence and then the next week your practicing sounds that letters make. You should have a general idea of where you want your students to be in terms of the reading and writing ability within three months, six months and a year.
Teaching Methods (How you will teach)
At this age, games and activities are still very popular teaching methods. However, it is a good idea to require your students to purchase their own textbooks and workbooks to use during the class. Most often you will use the textbooks to introduce various new key points. They can also get a lot of good reading practice by using these textbooks. Many of the textbooks will also have some simple practice that will review the key points. Don’t rely too much on these textbook “review” activities because they are usually inadequate and boring. It’s better to use a game or activity for this purpose.
Associated workbooks are also very good as they allow the teacher to assign homework where the children can practice their writing and reading skills away from class. This frees up a lot of class time that you can use to focus on other skills.
At this age you definitely want to have your students using textbooks and accompanied workbooks. The textbooks will help you introduce various key points in your class; they will also give the students a chance to practice their reading skills. The workbook will give you ample supply of homework that is related to any key point you are teaching during the previous class. Both of these are really essential for this age group.
This will be the last time you use a “children’s” textbook with your class. The next age group, 13 to 16 years old will more than likely be using a junior high school or high school English textbook in class. If you have a class of older students (all around 12) or a class of very experienced students then you might be able to skip the “children’s” textbook and move on to the “junior high school/high school” textbook.
A lot of the materials you use in your younger classes can be recycled and reused in this age group. Things like board games, card games, and vocabulary cards can easily be employed in this class’s activities. However, materials such as children’s books, balloons, stuffed animals are obviously not good for children from the ages of 10 to 12. You can also start to use materials that you would normally use in your adult classes in this class as well. Just don’t forget to simplify the games and activities.
Generally most students will present few problems. They like to do new things. Occasionally with the 12-year-olds you will see some “teenager” type behavior. They will certainly test your authority more than the younger children. Sometimes you will see some emotional ups and downs from some of the students. Keep an eye out for any “bullying” type of behavior as well. The key to combating any problems in class is keeping a tight lesson plan and being fair and consistent.
Parents can be a mixed bag at this age. Some want their children to study English as a hobby and others want their children to pass some difficult standardized test. Some parents might complain if they think the class that their children are in is too easy or too low of a level.
It is important to understand that some parents “decide” to put their children into an English class and some children “decide” they want to join a class and ask their parents. If you are working at a larger school this shouldn’t concern you but if you working on your own or running your own school it is very important to know if the parents or the children decide to continue studying English. If you do, you’re more likely to resign them when the time comes.
This age group will still continue to enjoy learning English through games and activities but they are getting to the age where they want to challenge themselves and many of them feel that they are no longer “kids”. Therefore it can be a good idea to start slowly increasing the amount of adult like activities that you use in your lesson plans. In this way you can help them bridge the gap between “kids” classes and “adult” classes.