EFL Teacher’s Kit for Surviving Kids (by Shelly Sanchez Terrell)

When I first began teaching very young English language learners in Germany, I went a bit insane! Kids climbed the walls literally and flew the paper airplanes I had actually thought would be a creative lesson plan. With 14 children running around and yelling, “Shelly Belly” I nearly quit.  At least they were using English, right? My extensive years of teaching had been to English speaking children who were much older and to English language learners who were in their teenage or college years.  I did a lot of research, because I love a challenge. The tips I learned are included in the Glogster below, which you can click and explore!

  1. You should have fun! Along these lines, wear a smile!
  2. Have the ability to act silly – I often dress-up when reading books, play charades, make silly voices and faces, and sing and dance!
  3. Have lively music that is easy for the children to understand and that you will enjoy singing very loudly to!
  4. TPR- Total physical response is a must for every lesson. Find out more by reading this post.
  5. Board games- We play Twister, bingo, and more!
  6. Include stories from great children’s authors and make the reading time fun. Check out my class wiki for various books and the themes they support.
  7. Use colorful flashcards and play games with the flash cards.
  8. Color with a purpose! Give children a task to see if they can follow directions, such as telling a child to draw a circle and color it yellow. Without direction, I’ve had children color on the wall and on me!
  9. Puppets are great for children, especially when you incorporate the puppet in every lesson.
  10. Felt boards are great for having children piece together what happened in a story or to learn new vocabulary.
  11. Include hands-on activities. We use recycled materials and children create things for the theme.
  12. Use realia- My students play Bingo with pennies from the USA. Introduce real world objects to students from an English speaking culture.
  13. Trust kids with technology! My five year-old students complete online activities each week which I put in a wiki. Kids love technology and will repeat what they learn.
  14. Finger plays like the Itsy Bitsy Spider work wonders.
  15. When all else fails, try channeling the inner kid within yourself!

Note: This article by Shelly Sanchez Terrell originally appeared on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.

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23 Responses

  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks, Shelly, for sharing such wonderful ideas! I also learned something new while trying to get this Glogster to fit within this column!

    I’m definitely going to get my older children working on making some glogs of their own 🙂

    Your classes sound like they must be a lot of fun–for both you and your students!

  2. Marisa Pavan says:

    Teaching children is a real challenge and you need special personality traits to be able to make them feel involved. You, Shelly, seem to have those traits!

  3. Lovely post and love your glosgster Shelly.

  4. Marisa and Marisa,

    Thank you for your kind words! I hope the Glogster really helps those teachers who are new to teaching English to children and will save them time in searching for resources.

  5. Ozge Karaoglu says:

    Great tips for teaching young and very young learners, Shelly! and your glogster can be the best handbook for teachers of young learners. Thank you for putting everything together. I would love to be your student, no doubt that I would enjoy it a lot!!

  6. David says:

    I’m left in awe again to see top educators such as yourself and Ozge push the envelope w/ the latest in technology integration.

  7. Thank you David! You’re a star for without blogs like yours we wouldn’t be able to find all these wonderful resources so easily!

  8. David says:


    I really like all these tips, especially about realia. So important for contextualizing the lesson. I’d also add – “enjoy your colleagues”! Great personal support in the school is essential for survival. Others might find my very old (now pushing 5 years) presentation on What Makes an Effective EFL Teacher helpful in this vein. https://eflclassroom.com/ppt/effectiveeflteacher.swf


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