Tips for Creating a Positive Learning Environment
Unless you teach kindy, you will most likely feel the same. There are two types of classrooms in a buxiban: The older kids who don’t want to be there because they are teenagers and the young eager learners who want to get rowdy with their new English teacher.
It’s essential to create a positive learning environment, not just for the kids sake, but for yours as well.
Let’s start with the young teens. They don’t want to be there. Shoulder shrugs and looks of boredom are seen often. I can understand their despair; they live a life of fully packed schedules with little room for fun. and your class is often late in the day. So make it fun!
- Engage them with corny “dad jokes” and try to sound cool. They will pretend to blow you off, but they love it.
- Often while reading stories, the students will mouth the words but be silent. Reading comprehension is a very important part of the class and their learning, but can feel like pulling teeth. You can’t always be the super fun teacher, so sometimes it’s necessary to make them read individually. Make them stand up, read out loud and sit down when finished. There is a way to make this fun for them, and that’s to give them a ball or something soft they can throw to a friend and the next person to read. You’ll find they love giving it to the kids you can never get to read!
- Create teams, and play games often, pinning one side against the other. Their competitiveness will create an easy teaching situation and get them wanting to learn.
- Lastly…. and this may be unaccepted by your boss, but sometimes throwing a little Chinese out there will get their ears perked right up. This can turn south however, and get them all trying to teach you Chinese, so it is important to reel it in right after getting them listening to you!
Young students are often riled up and ready to go. The more fun you have in class, the more they are engaged and learning. Here are some tips:
- Play games. Young learners love to play games with sentence patterns, phonics, spelling, reading, everything. Sometimes all you have to do is create teams at the beginning of class and just keep a running tally of good marks throughout class. This drives them to answer correctly, concentrate, and encourage their peers.
- Reward their efforts. We have something called “super money.” These decorated paper squares are like gold to the kids and they will try extra hard knowing sweet, sweet, super money is on the line.
- Redirect name-calling. Younger students can be very sensitive, and lighthearted “bad words” such as farmer can make them cry. What I have done is have them call me the names, then they all get together and have fun, instead of make one student cry. Now I am the “Stinky Shoe Watermelon Pig Farmer,” …and I don’t cry…
- Parents have high expectations of their child’s English ability. I know my first tip was “Play Games,” but class cannot be all games, and students have to know this. Games are a reward of good behavior and learning. When they start to slip it is important to get them on track before getting them riled up with games.
Hopefully, these tips help you out in your classroom! Overall just be fun, silly, engaging, and patient. Get creative and change the routine up often, to keep the kids on their toes!
Ryan left the US two years ago to try something new. Starting as a jungle guide in the Borneo rainforest of Malaysia, he was able to travel and work all over South East Asia. A year later he took a job teaching English to children in Taipei, Taiwan. He enjoys anything outdoors: hiking, mountain biking, and of soaking up the sun on the beach. If you don’t see him there, just look towards your local xiao long bao spot. Follow Ryan on Facebook, Twitter @downtoexplore, or Instagram.