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What to expect when teaching nursery

Before receiving the details of my language assistant placement, I was feeling confident, since I had some prior experience teaching English. However, my experience mainly consisted of teaching teenagers and adults who already had a good level of English and the motivation to learn.

Once I was informed about my placement, I knew I would be teaching in nursery. Here students range from 3-5 years old. This made me feel a lot less confident, as I had very little experience with children. ‘Can 3-year-olds even speak Spanish?’ ‘How do I plan a lesson for 3-year-olds?’ ‘What do I do with students that young?’ Questions like these circled through my mind right up until my first day at school. I had no idea what to expect. It is still quite new to me. However, I now realize how fun and rewarding teaching English in nursery can be.

Our Language Assistant teaches nursery students in a school

Five reasons why I love teaching in nursery:

• Children give the best greetings. They are always happy to see you.
• They always want to talk to you and tell you their news (although, usually in Spanish).
• They are easily entertained and amused.
• Lessons are fun and full of movement. Lots of singing, dancing, and acting.
• Hearing the children use the new English words they have learned is very rewarding.

What I have learned teaching English in nursery:

1.There is a lot of singing and dancing

Nursery lessons involve a lot of singing and dancing. It is important to know some English nursery songs which you can easily play for the students. This is a great way to get students moving and learning at the same time.

2. They want to copy everything you do

If the students see you singing and dancing they are more likely to do the same. As a result, as soon as they see you sitting at a table, they will do anything to sit at that table beside you.

3. Flashcards, Flashcards, Flashcards

Using materials, sucha as cards, is very important in the nursery classroom. Flashcards help introduce new words on a specific topic, such as colors, family, house, etc. There are also lots of games you can play using pictures to make the lesson more interactive.

4. Be flexible

Young students have so much energy. Furthermore, it is difficult for them to focus for long periods of time. Sometimes, if they feel very energetic, you might need to adapt the lesson to include more movement. Other times, you might need to have back-up ideas when activities are too difficult.

5. Improvise and experiment

Experiment with new songs or new activities to make lessons more fun. It will also help you learn what works and what doesn’t work, what the students like and what they don’t like. Sometimes, you may plan an activity that just doesn’t work with the students. In that case, it is important to be able to improvise by making the lesson easier or changing it to make it more fun and engaging.

6. Enthusiasm is vital

If you are smiling, the students are likely to smile right back at you. If you look bored while teaching the lesson material, then the students will also be bored and uninterested, and you will lose their attention. It is important to be enthusiastic and show the students that the lesson material is fun and exciting.

7. Meet the parents

When parents come to pick up their children at the end of the day, be there to smile, wave, or greet them. It is important that they see or meet you from time-to-time, as they want to know the people teaching their children.

8. It is very exciting to see students make progress

In the beginning, I wondered how the young students were going to make any progress in learning English, as they are still learning Spanish. However, as time went on, I started to notice them use some of the vocabulary from previous lessons. For instance, a week after learning colors, one student brought me her water bottle to tell me all the colors on it in English. English is very new to them, so it is very exciting to hear them use it correctly by themselves.

9. Be patient with yourself

This is a new experience. Consequently, you have to adjust to a lot of new things when you move abroad. It is important to breath and remembers that adjusting takes time.

Have a look to this post if you want to know more tips about teaching nursery in Spain.

Our Language Assistant teaches nursery students in a school

Pictures by Colegio La Salle Alcoi.

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