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Any discipline advice for 6 year olds with no English?

 
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seahorse2040



Joined: 20 Oct 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 10:28 am    Post subject: Any discipline advice for 6 year olds with no English? Reply with quote

Hi everyone, this is my first post here. Smile

I have been teaching preschool age TEFL for three years, but I have a problem with my latest class. I have fourteen 6 year olds and none of them can speak any English at all. I can't speak a word of their language either, nor am I supposed to, according to my boss. I have had classes like this previously but I always had an assistant who could help with translation and discipline. Now I am on my own and they mostly just ignore me because they can't understand what I want them to do.

Does anyone have any ideas how I can discipline them and keep them under control so I can actually teach them something? I can't use any of my usual discipline tactics (time out chair etc) because they don't understand me. Anyone been in this kind of situation before? Thanks.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess you can't ask their parents to stay? That worked really well for our class in Japan. The mothers or fathers usually want to learn English as well and it is good excuse to learn the basics in an easy way.

I guess you will have to do a lot of TPR - sit down, say, "sit down" and encourage them to sit down saying "yes, sit down" when they do it. Smile at the ones who do it and ignore the others. You can even give the ones who do it a sticker or hand stamp. Just keep adding commands until you have them in control: stand up, put your hand up, be quiet with the shushing sound and finger over your mouth. Once you get three or four sitting down quietly, start your routine. We use to do welcome with a song, "Hello Hiroki", how are you? Fine thank you." At first you have to sing all of it but can gradually drop out after "How are you?" so they are saying "Fine thank you." Then we did the weather, the date, colours, movements, some story song with a book with pictures, drawing with the colour of the day, an active game and a goodbye song. You can introduce weather games when they have learned "rainy, windy, snowy, sunny, et."
Really stick to the routine so they know what is coming next.

They loved things hidden in a paper bag to name as they pull them out. They loved Snap - you have vocabulary on flash cards and spread them out on the floor. When you call out an item, they try to slap the card - at first we used fly swatters but they sometimes hit the wrong things so we used those soft swords or Chinese yoyos. The first one to touch gets the card to keep and they add up how many they got at the end. With 16 you are going to have to have big cards and a bigger circle.

With that many I would try Scout and Guide games because they are made for large groups.

Just keep ignoring the ones who don't participate and smiling heartily at those that do. A few may never come around but at least the rest are learning and having fun. When you get the students, they have probably been on the go since 6 in the morning and have had to be quiet in school all day. The more activities the better. I always use animal balloons because you can teach them so much and they love them. You can teach colours, names of animals, shapes, names of buildings, create paths to walk with a flash card in each square that they must say before they can move on, frames for their pictures and on and on.

We had passports to English with 10 words on the page. They had to be able to say them all before they got a stamp. In the front we had the picture beside the word and in the back, the words in alphabetical order. When they could say them all, they got a prize - usually an English book using those words. The Let's Go English Dictionary was our guide. It has great questions for each page because they have to get to know the questions as much as the answers.

Check in their English books in their school bags to see if you are following what they are being taught in school.
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seahorse2040



Joined: 20 Oct 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, no I definitely can't ask the parents to stay! Thanks for your ideas, I mostly do that kind of stuff already, it's just hard to fill in the entire class (it goes for two hours 15 minutes). The kids don't learn English at school either. Their languages are Arabic and French, and they are mostly educated in French.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Scout or Guide meeting is 2 hours and they alternate games and crafts. quiet and noisy activities. They have badges to work for and a pledge to say. Not that you need those things but those things inspire children the world over.

They like to repeat things, have funny songs, do skits, do team races, colour a mural, make a banner, cook (there are lots of things to cook without a stove), eat, listen to a story with pictures. All the time you are telling them what they are doing in English.

Catch them being good. It may take awhile but it works.

Check in the school bags for their French books and try some of the same activities in English.
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seahorse2040



Joined: 20 Oct 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I was wondering what you meant by Scout and Guide games!

I have textbooks that I am supposed to complete with them, so I do have to stick to those to some extent, and I also don't have any resources at all, except a few packets of pencils for them to colour with. I don't have stories to read them. I don't even have scissors or glue to do craft activities. Every class I print off worksheets and flashcards and that's about the best I can do for them.

But are you saying that I should just ignore the ones who don't co operate? Will they eventually come around? I try to convey to them what I want them to do but they don't understand. Then they just do whatever they feel like doing. I tell them to come and sit down on the carpet, for example, and maybe half of them will do it, but the others will refuse. I try to get the lesson started but only a few of them will actually be listening to me, and this number gets less and less as the lesson goes on. I'm really scared that the parents will complain or they'll fail their exams.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What country are you in? What exam do they have to take?

Yes, teach those who want to learn. Can you say goodbye to the others and put them out of the classroom so they don't distract the rest? or influence them?

Can you video tape the classroom and show a bit to the parents when they drop their children off and ask for co-operation?

Can you ask for an assistant until you get your routine settled?

Do you know any French to give them commands at least?

Could just one parents stay each time? That is probably all you need.

Do you have a friend who speaks their language and can sit with the non-cooperators and win them over?

Do you need this job? Can you go to your boss for help?

If none of the above will work and you need the job, you will have to bribe them into being good. Find out what they are collecting or what is valuable in their world and after every activity reward them for completing it. It will take you a long time - it took me six months of giving out stickers in one class before they came around.

That is why I suggested the English passport because it is concrete and they can do a lot at home under parental supervision so they pass the tests. I used the pages as lessons and built all the activities and games around them.

You could do the same for your textbooks. Make an additional book that summarizes the textbook page and check it off as they are able to successfully complete it. I usually did this while the rest were doing a craft or worksheet, quickly at the beginning and ending of the period, and sometimes let them check each other while I circulated. You catch on quickly who is cheating and can put those students with ones you know won't let them get away with wrong answers.

It is super important to smile, get to know the names of and befriend the ones who co-operate and to completely ignore the ones who don't participate. It might be an acting job at the beginning but you might really enjoy the students by the end of sessions. I never got everyone fully on board but had the majority.

Gush to the parents of those who co-operate in front of all the other parents.
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seahorse2040



Joined: 20 Oct 2010
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To answer your questions:

I am in Tunisia.

They have to take a midterm written exam and two final exams, a written and an oral. I have to write the exams myself based on the textbooks.

I'm not allowed to put them out of the classroom because they need supervision.

I can barely communicate with the parents either. Their English is very limited and most of them rattle away at me in French, even though they know I can't understand them. I think they assume I'm faking it or something.

I asked if I could have an assistant and my boss said no because she doesn't want to pay two salaries.

Anyway I like your ideas and I think next time I will try stickers and lollies and see if that helps! I think they are good kids really and if only I could communicate with them on a basic level they would be perfect. Of course they have nothing to fear because I have no way of punishing them. But maybe positive rewards will help instead of punishment?
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At one school I took pictures of the children doing as I asked - Close the window, sit down, be quiet, close the door, write, draw, colour, read, talk, and so on. It is easy to get them to pose even if they don't know what you are saying and some kids like to get their picture taken. As I said, I had schedule of things to do in two hours - greetings, weather, transportation, clothing, animals, furniture, the room, and so on following a picture dictionary and building one area on the other. Then I made a huge clock and put the pictures of what we were doing at appropriate times. I put the commands down one side and then I could point to the commands and to the time and what we were doing. Routine is really important when they don't know you or what is required.

The teacher carried it further and rewarded the groups she had put them into with points with a prize at the end of the day, then after awhile two days and then a week and so on. It was a wild class even when the teacher spoke their language but it gradually turned around and I could feel the difference after about a month.

She also had a stop and go sign and if the class got too out of control would put the pointer on stop and the children would put their heads down on the desk for a while until they felt more in control and she could move the pointer to go again. They kids thought it was a game, not a punishment but it worked. Again, though, she spoke their language. It might be worth a try though.

Another teacher had a bag of dinosaurs (small plastic ones) and she rewarded the groups with a dinosaur if they did their work well or quietly or participated or whatever it was she wanted to emphasize. The group with the most dinosaurs got a prize at the end of the morning and then at the end of the day. She also spoke their language. I tried it once but the dinosaurs disappeared by the end of the day. They were more expensive than stickers so I stuck with the stickers of dinosaurs and other things.

As rewards I gave out crayons or coloured pencils (my Mom sent me tons) and so everyone had enough to do drawings. Then I had to give out drawing books as well because there was never enough paper. Then I added erasers, scissors, glue, and finally paint. All the supplies were really cheap in our flea market and I asked people at home to save up so my husband brought a suitcase full when he came to visit. Of course, the children shared if there wasn't enough for everyone.
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