Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

How to Teach ESL Grammar to Elementary Students
By:Sophie Southern

Teaching English as a second or foreign language, often referred to as ESL and EFL, can be an incredibly rewarding experience if you enjoy experiencing other cultures. Teaching ESL to elementary school students, more commonly referred to as "young learners," presents many challenges, but allows you have more fun with unconventional teaching methods. When teaching ESL grammar to young learners, you can use a wide variety of creative material ranging from games and songs to movies and TV shows. When selecting materials to teach ESL grammar to young learners, it is important to choose age-appropriate songs or videos that respect the students' culture and beliefs.

Play games. Games that incorporate grammar keep young learners motivated and entertained while encouraging them to participate in a more relaxed environment. There are plenty of board games for teaching ESL grammar to young learners, usually for specific grammar points, such as using the present tense or understanding determiners. If you are feeling particularly creative, you can design your own classroom games to teach grammar to your students.

Use animated TV shows and movies. The simple language and visual imagery of animated TV shows and movies makes them easy for young learners to follow, even if they don't understand everything that is being said. Watching something during a class seems like a fun day off for children, but they actually absorb a significant amount of grammar and vocabulary from TV shows and movies. Take notes during the showing of which grammar points you want to review from the film.

Sing songs with your students that reinforce grammar points. Songs use simple language and a repetitive structure that children remember and understand easily. You can find free ESL songs for children online or invest in a song book with an audio CD if you give a lot of ESL classes to young learners.

Create or find grammar exercises with clear illustrations or pictures. Illustrations help young learners understand and remember grammar lessons. Associating grammar point with pictures helps them recall the language elements that were learned and use them in a new context.

Speak slowly and avoid using slang, idioms or too many phrasal verbs. It's easy to become relaxed and begin switching words such as "increase" for the more spoken "go up," but these times of language elements are difficult for young ESL learners to understand. Speak as you would to a child two to three years younger than the actual age of your students.

Choose politically neutral and religion-free material. Subjects that are not controversial in the United States may be taboo in other countries and cultures. Make sure you understand what is appropriate for your students and choose accordingly.

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