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Teaching Young Learners Online: Some Tips and Some Useful Links

This post has a few ideas to make the learning more personalized and enjoyable.

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I was doing an internet search because a friend of mine asked me if I had any tips on teaching Young Learners online. Teaching online and teaching children are often not covered to any depth on any initial teacher course like Celta or Trinity CertTESOL.

Basics for Teaching Young Learners

I’d first suggest that you get familiar with a few basics for teaching Young Learners offline.

Decide on a routine for your class. How does each lesson begin? Next you review the previous lesson for 10-15 minutes? How do you end the lesson?

Keep Variety with:

  • Activity types: Balance settler and stirrer activities: Children need to have calming activities. But if they don’t do anything exciting they can become board. Timing is important too. Don’t let any stage in the lesson last for too long. 5-10 minutes is often enough. The British Council has a good article on the topic with some examples.
  • Interaction patterns: It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a balance of “heads up” and “heads down” activities. A “heads up” activity is where the students are looking at the teacher or engaged with the whole class. When students are doing a “heads down” activity, they are working alone and concentrating with material. Make sure there is some pair or group work too.

Moving into Online Teaching

If you are new to online teaching, you may have noticed that technology can by tricky if you don’t get to the lesson a bit early. Make sure you are prepared and waiting for the student.

Follow all of the same principles for teaching offline. There should be a routine to the lesson so that students feel like they know what’s going on and why. Care with stirrers and settlers needs to be taken into consideration. It is perfectly fine to incorporate a song as a stirrer activity. Don’t’ be afraid to use individual activities and allow students to think. No one should be stuck in a “whole class” interaction pattern where the teacher keeps them busy with questions.

The link below to Teaching Children Online at the Cambridge website offers sound advice for different activities and how to personalize practice.

Useful Links for Further Reading

Here I are a few blog posts from Cambridge’s Website:

  • Teaching Children Online: Sometimes newer online teachers may over rely on entertainment or “edutainment.” This post has a few ideas to make the learning more personalized and enjoyable. Using WALT statements, providing students with choice, and sticky note feedback are among the best ideas in the post. This was the most useful and practical link I could find.
  •  Teaching Primary English Online: This has a nice PowerPoint Presentation that you can download. The PowerPoint gives some ideas as to how you could make an online PowerPoint more engaging and use a variety of tools along the way to motivate learners.

ELT consultants has blog post about how to adapt online creation tools for teaching primary students online. You can learn how to adapt online tools in a principled way. Jigsaw Planet is an online tool that is explored.

Nick Peachy has a Slidedeck (like and online PowerPoint) from a presentation he did a few years ago on online tools for teaching Young Learners. Have a look at the different tools and you can click the images in the Slidedeck to find the links. If you are interested in teaching with technology (or teacher training with technology), Peachy is the one to follow.

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