italki Teaching Tips: How do I teach kids with italki?

Our italki Teaching Tips are real teaching tips from real italki teachers who have first hand experience teaching different students from all over the world.   We share these tips to help you become a better teacher.

How do I teach kids with italki?

kids_teaching1As in real-life – but 10 times more expressive. 3% grammar, 47% games 50% emotions. Melodious intonations also help a lot.

The main difference is that you cannot make children do what they do not like. Firstly, the lesson should be interesting. Kids love to play, so when you teach over Skype be sure to use cartoons, beautiful pictures, fairy tales, children’s songs, and/or descriptions of their favorite pets. Create atmosphere of fun games and kids would be happy to learn English over Skype.

The main road-block with kids is their attention span. They have to be constantly entertained. I have my online whiteboard that I use and that seems to do the trick, since I can keep changing the image. I also use word games and youtube to mix it up a bit.

I mentioned communication with student earlier and this is tricky with kids. You need to communicate with the parents in this case because most of the kids are there just because their parent is telling them they have to be. If the child is not responding, you need to tell the parent. I have told parents that their child is not ready yet for online lessons. With Skype lessons, the student needs to have a certain amount of vocabulary to be able to communicate- this goes for adults as well.

kids_teachingIn order to teach English over Skype, you need to be even more creative and innovative than in the classroom. There are definitely pro’s and con’s. However, the pros are very compelling. You have that one-to-one connection that will enhance the student’s ability to get the specific answers to problems they are having. I will type out sentences for them to correct and they can make the corrections and send it back to me via the instant messaging feature. I can give them a list of new vocabulary words and idioms and they can practice the pronunciation of each word and try to use it in a sentence both written and verbal. I also do a lot of role playing/dialogue to increase their listening and speaking skills. Also, there are other features with some Skype accounts where you may be able to share your screen and/or share files with your student, which opens up a variety of potential activities.

If the child is very young, I recommend students have a parent sit in with them. It is easy for young students to get distracting and parents can help redirect their attention. With kids, visual aides are essential. Depending on your technology access, sharing files or using a program like webex will greatly assist you in keeping them engaged. I have even pulled dolls to have a practice conversation. You really have to put on a show to keep kids engaged, especially over skype, but the payoff is big for you as a teacher because they are such quick learners and so fun to work with!

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