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VIPkid Teacher: Tips & Must-have Expressions for teaching English to Chinese kids

Nowadays, more and more people really enjoy learning foreign languages. For Chinese people, the need to learn English is quite huge. Thus, more and more English speakers are looking for English teaching positions to Chinese people. Whether online or offline, in or out of China, there are many opportunities to teach, one of which is to become a VIPkid teacher.

There is a special group among language learners—kids. They are different from adults who have different motivations to learn (such as for business, travel, etc.); kids don’t have any such motivations. There is only one thing which can drive them to learn a new language—interest. Therefore, as a vipkid teacher, we need to learn different teaching ways to make the process fun enough for them. Here are some tips that I can share with you.

Make them laugh

  • Be a good actor. As a vipkid teacher for kids, we must be skilled actors. For example, we can run away all of a sudden and pretend to be scared when you teach the word ‘tiger’. It can really get the kids excited and impressed by the word. They can even scream and say ‘tiger’ with you. Another example: we high-five kids after activities. We may pretend that they really hurt us and give them a suffering face. That can make them feel entertained, which will help them remember the lessons better.
  • You can teach creatively. For example, when you teach body parts, you may teach them by drawing a face. If you draw a face of one nose, one mouth, two eyes and two ears, it will just be a normal face. But if you draw three eyes, four ears and five legs, it can really make the kids laugh, and will make it more memorable for them.

Be creative.

Kids like new things. We need to design different activities for each class, such as art projects (clay-shaping; paper-cutting), games (costume play, various fun play) and coloring games. We can use these activities especially when we teach something abstract. For example, when we teach the words ‘wings’ and “flying”, we may do an art project with the kids. Let them do real wings using feathers, and teach them how birds use the wings to fly. That way, the kids will get the concept of wings and flying.

Make the kids move during class

Never make the kids sit still for over 20 minutes. We can make them dance, play games or follow our TPR (Total Physical Response) to jump or run around. Making them move around is not only to make them excited, but also to make them stay focused on the teaching objectives. If they sit still for too long, they may feel sleepy, bored, or get distracted.

Create the scenes for the words

When we need to teach some specific words, we may create scenes for these words to be understood. For example, when we teach ’police officer’, we may do role playing, and use props such as a policeman hat and plastic handcuffs. The kids can play as police officers and criminals. Believe me, the kids will love it!

Make lesson plans in advance

Some experienced teachers may think that it’s not important or necessary to make lesson plans. They rely on their sudden inspirations during class. For me, I think lesson plans are still necessary even if we are experienced teachers. From years of teaching, we may know lots of games and skills. But we still need lesson plans for good time management.

Discipline them:

  • Demonstrate the rules. For kids aged between 3-4, they may talk or run in class because they’ve never been to kindergarten or don’t know how to follow rules. So it’s crucial to demonstrate the rules in class right at the beginning of the course. We can’t judge the kids if we haven’t shown them what’s right and what’s wrong.

Here are some common class rules:

Eyes on teacher “看老师”(Kàn lǎoshī);

Listen to the teacher “听老师说”(Tīng lǎoshī shuō);

Raise your hand before you talk “举手再说话”(Jǔ shǒu zài shuōhuà);

No running “不要跑”(Bùyào pǎo);

No screaming “不要叫”(Bùyào jiào);

Line up “排队”(Páiduì).

  • Using reward and punishment systems. We may use stickers (like stars or cartoon characters) or tokens. If they keep talking or running in class, they may lose stars. They can get stickers if they behave in the opposite way. This system makes them realize that their behaviors can bring some good or bad results. They will thus pay attention to their behavior in class.

Different groups, different ways

  • For the super active group, it’s important to make them sit down. But how to do it? The solution is to burn up their energy. For example, we can make them do a lot of warm-up activities: standing up, sitting down, turning around, jumping. They will then sit down when they get tired.
  • For the silent group, we need to get them excited. Some kids don’t want to get involved, and they speak too softly in class, because they are shy and not used to the environment or the teachers. We need to encourage them even if they only move their lips or make bad pronunciations.

Make the kids take the lead role, make them think

Different from the traditional teaching methods, we should make the kids take the lead role, especially for groups who are older than 6. We may demonstrate the activities for a short time at first, but after that, we should get the kids involved and let them give it a try. For example, if we teach the word ‘ladybug’, we may let the kids draw. And in the process of drawing, the kids need to think about the details of the object–the shapes (it has two wings) and its colors (it’s red and black).

The Chinese expressions you need to know

As an English/ vipkid teacher for Chinese kids, you may need to know these Chinese expressions right from the beginning:

坐下。(zuò xià)       Sit down.

安静。(ān jìng)     Be quiet.

你渴了吗?要喝水吗? (nǐ kě le ma?yào hē shuǐ ma?)

Are you thirsty? Do you want water?

你要什么? (nǐ    yào   shén me ?) What do you need?

你喜欢吃什么?(nǐ xǐhuān chī sh me?)  What do you like to eat?

你要上厕所吗? (nǐ yào shàng cèsuǒ ma?)

Do you want to go to the bathroom?

不可以这样。(bù kěyǐ zhèyàng . ) You cannot do this.

你真棒!(Nǐ zhēn bàng!)You are doing great!

跟我读!(Gēn wǒ dú!)Read after me!

看这里。(Kàn zhèlǐ.)Look here.

A teacher’s greatest happiness is to see their students learn as they grow up. I wish that you will get this feeling of satisfaction in the process of teaching. Good luck!

Elle Qian

Elle is a Chinese language teacher who holds a Master's degree in Teaching Chinese as A Second Language. She worked in Confucius Institute of Pontifical Catholic University of Peru for a year and now is a tutor of online Chinese school TouchChinese. She hopes the learners can enjoy learning Chinese and take the best advantage of it!

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