Structuring an ESL lesson for 3-6 year olds.

Aktualisiert: 25. Nov 2020

Speaking to children in a language that is not their mother tongue plunges them into an unfamiliar environment. Therefore, I provide a predictable structure to the session to give them a feeling of control and confidence. In this post I would like to share the structure that works for me in my small groups of 8 - 10 children.


The timings are a rough guide which I adapt to the needs of the children during the session. If teaching Early Years children for 10 years has taught me anything, it is never to plough on with a lesson plan when I can see that the children need a different approach. My "dancing time and final circle" are within one time slot because I cannot predict the energy level and focus of the group at this point. I always have extra circle time games or lively action songs up my sleeve. I teach three lessons back to back with the same plan but they never end up having exactly the same balance of activities.



Introductory Circle 0-10 minutes

I begin with a hello song, teaching the children greetings and starting with something that they quickly know very well. Then we play games and sing songs which introduce new and recap previous vocabulary.

Running Game 10 -15 minutes

This is a favourite with my pupils. I place flashcards around the room, call them out and the children race to them. It provides a chance for them to have a run around after sitting for circle time, and a very effective way to practice their vocabulary.

Craft and Play Time 15 - 35 mins

The children take part in a creative tabletop activity based on their topic which gives them time to work independently on a task providing a break from following instructions. I use this opportunity to chat to the children individually in English, encouraging them to practise vocabulary a 1:1 basis. This is very important for the children who lack the confidence to speak in front of the whole group. As the children finish their creative activity I provide some topic related toys and games that can be accessed without adult support. This gives me a chance to play alongside them modelling their topic words in the context of their play.

Dancing Time and Final Circle 35 - 50 minutes

Now the children take part in action songs, getting them moving again and providing a fun and active way to listen to, join in with and respond to English vocabulary. This change of pace is important for keeping children energised and focused.


Then we come together in a final circle for a quiet game/story and goodbye song.



Don’t be disheartened if everything doesn’t go to plan, just keep reflecting on and adapting your teaching. The unpredictability is one of the greatest joys about teaching young children. Early Years children will keep you on your toes, give you endless laughs, surprise and inspire you and ensure that you will never be bored!











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