Teaching ESL to Kindergarten Using Shadow Puppets
Teaching English to kindergarten children is now the fastest growing job type in China. What's more, for me, it's also the age where I personally get the most job satisfaction. If you are a creative person, who enjoys making things, painting things, inventing songs and getting your hands mucky; basically, the child who never grew up yourself, then teaching ESL to kindergarten children in China is a line of TEFL teaching which you should seriously consider.
As a kindergarten teacher, you should always be on the hunt for new ways to engage with your kindergarten kids. One problem with teaching kindergarten kids in China is that you will find that the kids will have had very little access to the type of education that western kids get in kindergarten, where the emphasis is learning and interacting about the world around them through play, craft, songs, touching things and using their full range of senses in their learning journey. This is where you, as a kindergarten teacher in China, can have the most impact on young lives and child education by bringing western teaching methods into the Chinese kindergarten classroom. One fantastic way of bringing a story to life is through making shadow puppets to tell the story you are using through shadow puppetry.
Using Shadow Puppets to Teach ESL to Kindergarten
Using Shadow Puppets to Teach ESL to Kindergarten

This idea was recommended to me by David Parkin, who is a British teacher living and working in Beijing. He works at a kindergarten in Beijing and used shadow puppets to teach his kindergarten class recently.
David used a book called Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. The book is about different animals going to the zoo but not being suitable for one reason or another, too heavy, too tall, too fierce, too small, etc. So the book has some fantastic language for the kindergarten kids to learn, but actually any English book suitable for kindergarten work work well. David made the shadow puppets to teach ESL to his kindergarten class using card, chopsticks and sticky tape. A simple large piece of cloth was used to cast shadows from the shadow puppets onto for the kindergarten class.

Using Shadow Puppets to Teach ESL to Kindergarten kids
You can make shadow puppets to teach ESL to kindergarten kids using any good simple story really, whether the target language is animals, family, food, shapes, whatever. Just cut out your card, stick the shape onto a chopstick and you've got your shadow puppet!

Pre-teach the kindergarten class using your shadow puppets
Making your shadow puppets to teach English to your class is very easy. Simply find some good images online, print them onto card, cut them out and stick them onto chopsticks...you've now got some awesome shadow puppets to teach with!

Using shadow puppets to teach kindergarten

Before you start, be sure to pre-teach the main language from the story with your kindergarten students. You can use your shadow puppets to do this.

Making Shadow Puppet props for teaching
Also remember to make shadow puppet props to help tell the story to your kindergarten children. This will help them to understand what is happening and remember more of the target language from the story.

Using Shadow Puppets to Teach ESL to Kindergarten
Plod..plod..plod..went the elephant. Bring English stories to life using shadow puppets with your kindergarten classes.

Use animal sounds when reading stories to kindergarten
And don't forget to make all those wonderful sounds and animal noises when recreating the story for your kindergarten kids.

Using Shadow Puppets to Tell Stories to kindergarten kids
Give your kindergarten kids a massive treat by telling English stories to them using shadow puppets.

Getting Prepared to Tell Stories to Kindergarten Kids Using Shadow Puppets

As any good teacher will know, you just can't hang up a sheet of cloth and start reading your story using your shadow puppets - your kids will have no idea what is going on. You need to prep them and pre-teach the key language for the story.

There are many ways to pre-teach the vocab you need before using your shadow puppets to teach ESL to your kindergarten kids, but here are the steps which David used in his classes in Beijing:

First introduced the animals in the book by making hand gestures / noises and had the kids guess what the animal was. The vocabulary was then reinforced through a speed guessing and performing the animals game.

 
The puppets were held up behind the cloth to make the silhouette and the kids were asked 'what's this?' for each of the puppets.
 
The kids then come up one by one and are given a puppet and have to ask the others 'what's this?'
 
The kindergarten kids are then taught the key adjectives using hand gestures and a song.
 
We played a game where the animals were sorted into different containers and this was turned into a race.
 
Students, with the teacher, made full sentences such as 'the giraffe is too tall', 'the elephant is too heavy', the 'tiger is too fierce'.
 
We sat in a circle and the teacher read the book to the kids showing the pictures in the book. Everyone could now understand the story.
 
The teacher did the full story again, this time using the shadow puppets on sticks behind the cloth to tell the story using shadows.


by Stuart Allen
It's been four years since I decided to work as an English teacher in China. As you know the easiest and most commonly job available job to get in China is to teach English. As a Filipino English teacher, English is my 2nd language, it is widely spoken in the Philippines and we, the Filipinos, have been studying English since we were very young. As such, we are very comfortable speaking and using the English language and it is also very close in our alphabet. 

American influence on Filipino culture and language
 
America has a very big influence in our culture and traditions; you might even hear most of us speaking like a native-American, so no wonder the big BPOs and my Filipinos are widely spread all around the world!
 
Here in China, I am lucky and blessed to be teaching English as a Kindergarten Teacher. Yes! You got it right! Which it is really very unheard in my mother land, for guys rarely teach very young kids (it’s more of a female dominated industry), and honestly I don’t know if I’ll teach at kindergarten back home in the Philippines. Although I’m uncertain about being a kindergarten teacher in the Philippines, I’m loving being a Filipino English teacher at kindergarten in China!

My experiences as a Filipino English teacher in a Chinese Kindergarten
 
So after almost four years that I’ve been a kindergarten teacher in China, allow me to share some of the most common experiences being a male kindergarten teacher in China. Kindergartens in China will obviously differ in their set-up, but these are my personal experiences. 
 
In my Kindergarten, they’re divided in four categories: baby, small, middle and big class. I was surprised to have a 2 year-old and 8 month-old in my class in China, and I was even more startled when I found out that some of the parents leave their children in school for one week and their teachers supervised them; they are not just kindergarten teachers, but also a nanny! Kindergartens in China are often not just a school, they become a daycare as well. Parents here are often exceptionally busy with their work schedules and have both parents working to support the family. That’s the way they do it, I respect that; and although it may be new to me, I guess that’s just the way it is. Just adapt!   

Cute kids but communication problems
 
The children I teach and care for look cute and they’re lovely. They’ll talk to you the way they talk to their parents, as if you understand everything they say to you. If you’re a novice and you don’t have a basic Mandarin background, your best response will just smile to them and nod. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a deeper and long conversation with them (especially as a non-Chinese speaker), who knows if they can understand everything you said and even if you try to speak in Chinese, some of them won’t understand anyway. Besides, you’re always in a hurry to go to your next kindergarten class, so it’s hard to have a quality time with every one of them, especially you have different kindergartens to visit and teach in. 
 
But you will surely learn lots of basic Chinese words and expressions, for you’ll always hear them speaking and they speak more slowly and simply compared to grown-ups. Kids in a Chinese kindergarten can be awesome teachers! 
 
Don’t expect to memorize all their Chinese names; for the thousand or more of my students, I can only count in the fingers of my hands the names of my students that I know. 

Local Chinese kindergartens teachers can help you
 
I have never actually handled a baby class yet, so I don’t know about that, but my Small Class (ages 3 and up) are so cute and lovely…they like to hug and kiss you! Who would not like to be with them, right!? Well the most energetic (and naughtiest!) students are at the Middle Class, they’ll do crazy things and sometimes it’s hard to control. 
 
Sometimes if you’re using Total Physical Response (TPR) in kindergarten class, they’ll just go wild and crazy, and I find that they can only be controlled by the help of the Chinese kindergarten teachers, with whom they are frightened. 

Using rewards as a motivator in kindergarten classes in China
 
Big class kindergarten students are more showy! They want to prove to you that they have learnt many things and that they’re outstanding! They’re always excited to see you, but make sure you are bringing stickers, toys or anything as their rewards for good work in kindergarten classes, otherwise they’ll not be that energetic as you expected. That’s one way of motivating them. Students in Chinese kindergartens love rewards as a motivator.

Teach Chinese children good pronunciation early
 
Pronunciation is very important at Chinese kindergartens, especially because many of them omit the last letter of the word. I always have a hard time to get the correct response from them. For example, every time they say “grapes” they’ll say ‘grace’, and they’ll say “mouse” instead of “mouth”. One big problem with kindergartens in China (and actually all schools in China), is that the local teachers may not have any ability at all in English and will do pronunciation drills with students really badly and mess up the good English pronunciation you’ve been trying so hard to get them to do. 

Kindergarten kids in China have an unbelieveable memory for vocab!
 
But believe me or not, the Chinese kindergarten kids so amazing when it comes to memory! They can memorize 50-80 words, sentences and 10-20 songs for one term, which is equivalent to 4-5 months. Great huh? I have wondered whether we could be fluent in Mandarin if only we would learn at least 2-3 common Chinese words and one sentence per week! Imagine how many words you’ll have on your word bank once you reach 2 or 5 years in China! 

Shuaige and Show Classes in China
 
Male teachers in Chinese kindergartens are center of attraction! For the kids and staff, we are all “shuai” (handsome) - for they have nothing to compare with. You’re the most handsome because you’re the only male teacher. Hehe. Foreign teachers are instant celebrities in our respective schools and remember to always wear a smiling face, especially for important occasions such as Children’s Day and before the end of term when there’ll be parents classes (show classes). End of term ‘Show Classes’ for parents in Chinese kindergartens should be superb and they should be impressive, showing the parents what their children have learnt over the term.

Have confidence in your skills as an educator

But don’t feel so nervous, have confidence in your skills as an English teacher in kindergartens and prove to them that you are surely a good catch for the school. Parents will be watching, they’ll be taking pictures and videos of you, and who knows only few seconds later your video is already posted on their Wechat moments! Don’t belittle them, some of them are also English teachers, doctors or have even travelers to many countries, so prepare well for the final classes of the term. 

Singing and dancing in kindergarten classes
 
Kids in Chinese kindergartens (and in kindergartens all over the world) really respond well to singing and dancing. As a kindergarten teacher, you need to bring down any adult barriers you may naturally have and really put lots of energy, singing and dancing into your kindergarten classes. I have to sing and dance; it’s my craft, and my lesson wouldn’t be complete without those things. I always need to do it every day in front of my kindergarten class. Yes they are kids; they learn best when you’re not just saying the word but you act it too. Funny it may seem, but you’re not just a plain teacher, but you’re a clown and an entertainer.
 
I can carry on sharing bits and pieces of stories about teaching in a kindergarten in China, but I will just end it with this last sentence:
 
“If you learn how to teach English in kindergarten, it will be a lot easier for you to teach in any level. If you can learn the hardest first, then all other subsequent teaching in China will be easier for you.”
 
For those who want to become one of us! The best of luck! It won’t be easy at first but I’m sure you can do it as long as you have the 3 P’s: Patience, Perseverance and Personality! 

by Marvin Tuazon

 






Feel free to check my Youtube site (Marvin @ China) or message me on my QQ at 2480887141. 
 

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