Teaching 5 year-olds is unlike anything I have ever done before in my life. It's very, very hard. I don't think I am naturally inclined to do it, but I find myself in this situation and it is a rich one, ripe for exploration. How do I set the stage? Well, I have about 21 students who all require a tremendous amount of attention and who each pose their own unique challenges. The first difference that comes to mind when comparing 1st graders with their older counterparts is that there are really no independent learners in the classroom. With the exception of 3 of the girls, every other student needs constant monitoring. I am quite grateful to have another teacher in the classroom who is fluent in Chinese and quite adept at working with young learners. I don't think I could manage without her.
Every class is a real challenge. I feel like a brand new teacher. I can't really rely on everything I've learned up until this point. I can plan a lesson, but honestly that doesn't come in all that handy when circumstances beyond my control force me to improvise and I'm left not really knowing what to do. I imagine this feeling isn't' something that leaves us entirely, even after a decade of teaching. That's probably something I will learn to appreciate as time passes.
Anyway, the kids are cute. Quite lovely, actually. I have a few textbooks to peruse during my spare time that offer some good advice on the subject. I should probably consult them more often.
One question I am left asking myself is: realistically, what sort of language objectives can I have for a group of students so young?
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