Teaching English to children can be a fun and highly rewarding experience. It provides the opportunity not only to travel to exciting destinations, but also gain a rewarding career watching children develop their language, confidence and social skills. When most people think of teaching abroad, they think of teaching EFL (English as a foreign language). However, opportunities also exist in ESL (English as a second language).

At first glance, the two terms, EFL and ESL, may appear to be pretty much the same thing, however, they contain several key differences. Mostly, those teaching English as a foreign language are doing so in a country where English is not the native language. People who teach English as a second language work with young students (most often

As ESL teachers work in English-speaking countries, it provides the opportunity to teach English to children without having to live in a country that would require knowledge of a foreign language to communicate outside the classroom setting.

There are a variety of different setting in which a teacher can obtain an ESL position. Some public and private schools may offer ESL classes along side regular grades. This makes for an easy transition once students are ready to “graduate” from an ESL class.

Other options, such as language schools, may cater specifically towards students who require ESL teaching. These schools may have more resources available that cater specifically to ESL learning.

Finally, it is also possible to teach ESL outside of a traditional classroom setting. Some families may want to hire a private tutor for one-on-one learning. In this scenario, lessons can be catered specifically for the individual student, allowing the teacher to adjust the pace and order of lesson plans to fit the child’s unique scenario. In Europe, there are numerous summer camps that teach ESL courses that allow children to enroll alongside their parents.

ESL Student-Teacher Relations

As a children’s ESL teacher, you’ll be working with younger students who are at odds to communicate in their home country. As a result, they are often shy and nervous in a classroom setting. However, they have a much more immediate need to grasp the language as they will be encountering it on a daily basis outside of the classrooms and will therefore be more motivated to learn and will likely pick up the language at a fast pace.

When working with young students, the teacher will be one of the first people they will be able to communicate with in English. As a result, it is highly important to establish a positive relationship with your students. Since ESL teachers may end up working with students from all over the globe in one classroom, the same relationship formula may not work for an entire class. For example, if a teacher refuses eye contact with a student from France, it may cause them to think that the teacher views themselves to be “too good” for their students. Contrastingly, Chinese students may go out of their way to refuse eye contact, as it is not part of their customs.

In general however, here are a few points that can help establish positive student-teacher relations:

  • Become familiar with the native customs and traditions of the students
  • Avoid pointing at and touching students
  • Never chew gum in the classroom
  • Provide positive feedback and an encouraging environment

Most importantly, ESL teachers need to remember that children in their classes may be having a difficult time adjusting not only to the school in their new country, but also to everyday life. If a child seems to be struggling emotionally, ESL teachers may need to help coach them through some of these challenges.

Tips for Teaching Children

ESL teachers are often required to develop their own lesson plans, so knowing how to structure a school day is a vital skill. Developing these plans may seem intimidating at first, but there are many online resources for ESL teachers. Altogether, it’s important to first establish the level of English your class possesses is. Unlike with EFL, the kids will also be trying to use what they learn in their external environment, such as words and phrases they’ll encounter in everyday life.

Slang phrases and references to popular culture will also be important as the students will encounter this type of vocabulary in the outside world more than formal grammatical structures. Regardless of the lessons and activities that are being planned, these tips can prove helpful:

  • Children have short attention spans, but will pay attention for longer periods if they are actively involved with interactive lessons instead of being lectured.
  • Remember to speak slowly and annunciate, but do not use a tone that may (even unintentionally) belittle students.
  • Have a back up plan (even just a fun game or song) in case a lesson proves unsuccessful or finishes early.
  • Encourage students to speak amongst themselves in English. This is especially important if you have students who speak the same native language.
  • Have fun! Incorporate ESL games and activities whenever possible.
Contributed by Judi Zienchuk

Programs

Displaying 31 - 45 of 150
Set In China
11 reviews
China
Highly rated for Benefits, Support, Facilities
1 staff interview
If you are a native English speaker or you have very good English skills. Teaching in China...
Meddeas
11 reviews
Spain
Highly rated for Benefits
3 alumni interviews
During one academic year, participants will teach 20 hours a week in one of the 200 schools Meddeas works with. They will also gain international experience and add transferable skills to their CV. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover a new culture and language, paying no fees and with a guaranteed monthly grant, which is more than enough to live in Spain as a young professional.

Recently Reviewed Programs

Samantha Garcia
8/10
Teaching with Media Kids was life changing. I found myself pushing out of my comfort zone all to have the most fun and teach my students the best I could. I grew as a person and came to love all my...
Kristen Andersen
10/10
My Thai Life for 2-months was the most incredible experience I have ever had. I hesitated to teach abroad for years and for numerous reasons. Now, I would never doubt or feel hesitant again. Teaching...
Thulani Fadashe
9/10
I think this program is very effective and efficient to those who look beyond the borders of their own country’s for employment. My experience has been enhanced grateful as I have met people of...
Amber Leigh
10/10
100% so happy that I found this company. Jay has been nothing but supportive and has helped me in so many different ways. It would not have been the same experience with out him. I have been...