Here is a fun fact about teaching English online: not all your students will speak English. Of course, the students are learning English, so we don't expect fluency. But you'd expect most students are going to, well, at least try to speak.
I thought so, anyway. Then I had a student come along who was marked as being 4 years old. I wasn't too scared of this - 4 year olds are fun and engaged in learning through play, right? Well, that may be true for actual 4 years olds. This "4 year old" student of mine is actually 2 years old.
A 2 year old has a tiny attention span. A 30 minute lesson is too much for a 2 year old. This particular 2 year old, adorable as he is, is hyperactive as anything. Most of the lesson is him running around the room and his sweet, caring mother following with the screen.
Even better, the courseware he is on entails lessons that are about 8 pages long. Sooooo, what am I left to do?!
At first, I was a total mess. I would see this student's name on my schedule and panic. How can I entertain him today?! I felt at quite a loss.
But, I pulled myself together and out of respect for the company I teach for and his parents who clearly care about advancing his education, I dived deep into the world of nursery rhymes!
I was once a special needs assistant at a pre-school in Australia. These were real life 4 year old students (actually 4!) and they loved nursery rhymes. I'm not a good singer, but kids are easy to entertain.
So, my solution for my sweet 2 year old boy (who has 3 lessons a week!!!) is nursery rhymes.
Here are some of my favourite classics that I like to sing with him. All my props and characters are drawn or painted on recycled materials. They are simple and easy but grab his attention nicely. He bops along each time my 5 little ducks come up on screen.
I've also used these nursery rhymes for older students. Beyond age 5, they lose appeal. But for students under 5 they are quite a fun way to break up the class. Most involve numbers, counting, and repetition which is perfect vocabulary building.
You don't need much in order to use nursery rhymes. As I've found out, you don't even have to be good at singing!