How to teach a successful level 0 normal session
The level 0 materials can at times seem daunting to teach. Unlike the higher levels which cover a range of topics, grammar practice, and reading, level 0 is limited to just vocabulary. The text begins with colours and moves through family, daily routine and actions with pictures to match and it can be difficult to move the session away from merely learning by rote. On top of this, most children at level 0 range from the ages of two up to around six which means a possibility of short attention spans and an inability to understand simple instructions in English.
Don’t let that put you off! Level 0 sessions can be some of the most fun, humorous, and rewarding sessions. As long as you’re a little prepared beforehand, our youngest Breadies are the quickest to giggle and keen to have a go. Here is a guide to how to run a successful level 0 normal session so both you and the Bready get the best out of it.
Prepare in advance
This goes without saying for all levels, preparation beforehand is key. Even if it is just going over the content and making sure you’re comfortable with it beforehand, being prepared means your session will flow easier and you and your Bready will be more confident. As level 0 content is very simple, it is important to think about how you will break the lesson up rather than it being a stream of you saying and the student repeating. What activities will you include to make sure they’re remembering as they go along? Will you include a song? How can you explain something without using words?
Get them to speak in full sentences
It is very important to get level 0 students to speak using full sentences. Parents are looking for this in the lessons and it really helps push the Bready to the next level. When looking at fruit for example, get the Bready to not just say ‘strawberry’ but ‘this is a strawberry’. Ask the student, using gestures, whether they like something or not. Rather than just saying yes, get your student to say ‘yes, I like to paint’. You can make this easier by having a powerpoint, flashcards or using the whiteboard with the sentence ‘This is a _____’ with gaps for the student to fill. You can try and make them extend sentences by getting them to say ‘I like strawberries but I don’t like watermelon’ - see how far you can take it!
Have interesting props around you (even if it’s a carrot and a potato you’ve got in the fridge)
For young students - or arguably any students - just looking at images and talking about them can be a little dry. Using props or flashcards can be a great way to make the session more interactive and to get the Bready to really look at you and what you’re teaching them. This doesn’t have to be fancy or prepared hours in advance. If you’re teaching food, see what you have lying around in the fridge. If you’re looking at clothes, go and ransack your wardrobe. The action pages are excellent for giving you movement. What better way to get the student to learn ‘stand up, ‘sit down’, or ‘run’, than actually making them do it and you doing it yourself? And this leads into…
Be as energetic as possible
Students tend to react well to movement and energy, and this has to be heightened for younger students. When you teach level 0 try to channel your favourite children's TV presenter. Use lots of gestures with movement to keep the Bready’s energy levels up and to stop the lesson looking static. Stand up and get them to stand up to demonstrate things. If you’re looking at something it’s likely they have in the house - this could be a colour, toy or piece of clothing for example - get them to run and find it. If they like drawing, cheer if they draw something correctly on the whiteboard. Even shy students tend to respond to high energy well. Prepare to be laughed at for acting silly if that’s what it takes.
This technically comes under ‘be as energetic as possible’ but I’m giving it a special category of its own. The Breadies I’ve had always respond well to getting louder, even the shy ones. Like a pantomime, get them to repeat the word by cupping your ear as if you can’t hear. This gives students more confidence to speak loudly and turns answering questions into more of a game… Of course, the parents may not appreciate this so much, but from experience, it helps engage even shy students. Use a lot of expression in your own voice to emphasise sounding inquisitive, excited or if you’re giving praise.
Make sure you recap the last session properly
As level 0 is mainly about vocabulary, it's important to make sure they’ve remembered as much as possible between sessions. Make the icebreaker about the previous session’s vocabulary. Maybe this could be an I spy game or a game of Pictionary. There’s no point having the sessions if they’re going to forget what they’ve learnt straight away!
Have games ready for the session
End the session with a game of some kind to make sure they’ve remembered everything they can and so that they leave the session smiling. This could be anything like a game of I Spy, match the image to the name, or find the *** in the picture. Plenty of examples can be found on the Padlet.
Lastly, don't forget to set homework!
Even if it is simply to review the vocabulary, the Breadies will not take away much from the session if they don't have a reason to digest it at home. If you would like your Bready to be a bit more creative, get them to draw three things learnt that day or to learn to spell the word that was most difficult for them. Use the homework template if you think they will forget or couldn't understand what you were asking.
Good luck! Teaching our young Breadies can be exhilarating, endearing and hilarious so come to a new session with no expectations and leave with memories and anecdotes.