Teaching The Family
Your ESL career will most likely lead you to be at the front of a classroom full of toddlers. While teaching young learners has its challenges and amazing rewards, if you have a classroom with 10 students, you are actually preparing lessons for 30 people in total. Your young learners’ lesson will always have a clear aim and objective. You will want them to learn and be able to apply a lexical set or grammatical point within a certain amount of time to a degree of ability relevant to their age and scope of what’s being taught. But, keep in mind, as your students are learning so are two other people: their mom and dad.
The parents of a young learner are learning, but they are not learning to speak English as a second language as some of them already do, they are learning to be the parents of a bilingual child. If the parents already know some basic English, then they have a clear advantage and they would be able to help more at home, one might think, even parents who speak the language nearly at a fluent level can still struggle to help their child learn at home. Then, if regardless of knowledge of the language, parents are still struggling to help the child practice at home, what can be done?
Getting Them Involved
This is when the scope of your teaching responsibility goes above and beyond, particularly beyond the needs and wants of your immediate students – the ones in the classroom. Now you need to tend to the needs of your secondary learners – your students’ parents. What are their needs and wants?
Parents need to know and understand. They need to know everything, or as much as possible in regards to their child’s participation, behavior, involvement and development within the group, during the course and as an individual. The best way to satisfy this need is with open and direct communications. Don’t be a robot, your lesson starts at 9:00 and finishes at 10:00, don’t go running to the teacher’s office to sit on your chair watching the clock or play on your phone until the next class (this is, by the way, super unprofessional). Go to the classroom a few minutes earlier to set up and chat with the parents, say hello to the students, get to know everyone, the parents will see that you are an approachable teacher and will feel comfortable and willing to communicate to you their concerns. Don’t speak the local language? Easy, speak with your Academic manager, most schools have staff dedicated purely for this purpose, at EF schools, like EF Shijiazhuang, an amazing team of Progress Advisors or PAs will always be there to act as a bridge of communication between you and the parents.
Wants vs Needs
What you want is not always what you need, but when it comes to parents of young learners, there is a very thin line separating their “wants” and “expectations”. Parents expect their child to be able to communicate with any foreigner with confidence, but they also want their child to learn, make good progress, see results and be reassured that they are being taught by a professional ESL teacher, someone they would deem responsible. It’s important to highlight at this point that Chinese parents use the term to refer to teachers who make their work visible with punctuality, having a good rapport with students, clear and precise marking of papers and an active teaching atmosphere.
have a reputation for being tough, which they are not, they are actually loving and caring parents who are aware of the tremendously challenging and competitive world their child will face, plus it’s their one and only child, so they want to guarantee they will provide their child with tools they need to succeed. One of those tools is English and you will have a great impact on many children’s lives and also their parents. Up for the challenge?