Teaching young students English on italki may be enjoyable and difficult, particularly in virtual environments. It takes imagination, tolerance, and a range of techniques to keep your students interested and involved. Here are ten easy-to-implement strategies that can help you make your italki lessons with young students interesting and fun, regardless of your experience level.

1. Establish a Friendly Atmosphere: Start each lesson with a smile and a kind salutation. Creating a welcoming and encouraging environment will make kids feel at ease and eager to engage. Remember to speak slowly and clearly and help make your students feel at ease.

2. Games and Activities: Since kids enjoy playing and experiential learning, try to include interactive games and activities in your teaching. This could be an online scavenger hunt, bingo, role plays, and interactive games to build excitement and engagement, based on their interests and hobbies.

3. Use Visual Aids: Use visual aids for your students, such as flashcards, pictures, and videos. These are powerful tools for engaging young learners. Incorporate colorful visuals to reinforce vocabulary points, specific grammar concepts, and language structures you want your students to master.

4. Tell Stories: Young students have vivid imaginations and love stories. Try to share stories, using online/interactive books, including fairytales. Use this as a chance to ask lots of comprehension questions, complete extension activities, and create writing tasks.  

5. Use Songs, Chants, and Music: Songs, chants and music are a great way to help your students understand and connect with the language and content of your classes. This is a great way to help your students improve pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar in a relaxed and simple way while engaging and helping young students to succeed online.

6. Encourage Movement and Activity: Asking young students to sit still for a long time can be challenging. An easy way to implement movement, also known as Total Physical Response (TPS), is to incorporate games like Simon Says, movement games, dancing, acting, or bringing items to/from their room to their desk. This will not only help children stay active and engaged, but also make them enjoy classes, and continue to book/buy packages in the future. 

7. Provide Feedback and Positive Reinforcement: Feedback is essential to encourage and build a child’s confidence and motivation levels. Try to offer lots of small, regular and timely feedback for your students, to help them succeed and to monitor their progress during classes. Positive reinforcement is a great way to build and create a positive learning environment, boost the self-esteem of young learners, and keep them coming back to your sessions week after week. 

8. Create Personalized Learning: To ensure the best experience for your young students, make sure to tailor your lessons to mirror their interests, preferences, and style of learning. Create lessons and materials that reflect and resonate with them. It could be animals, sports, superheroes, hobbies, or food. Personalizing learning experiences for your students will build a strong enthusiasm for learning English and a strong connection with your young learners. 

9. Try and Facilitate Peer Interaction and Reflection: If you teach more than one student or small groups of young learners, encourage them to interact with each other and reflect on their learning where possible. Try and create collaborative tasks you can work on together with your student, or small groups of students, and incorporate role plays, discussions, and collaborative projects. This can help build communication skills, teamwork, and improved social interactions in English. Have a few minutes free at the end of the class? Or do you want some extra homework tasks for students? Create a learning journal or learning diary for your students to work on at the end of class, or between classes to help connect learning, practice writing skills, and help enhance student engagement.

10. End with a Memorable and Fun Activity: At the end of your session, make sure to take a few minutes to wrap up your session properly, and include a rewarding and enjoyable activity. You could use a reflection task as mentioned above, or it could be a drawing task, a creative task, a video, or a song/chant to wrap up the lesson. This will help your learners end the session with excitement and look forward to booking their next class/package, as well as a positive review for your italki profile. 

Building a fun, enjoyable environment, building rapport, and creating strong relationships with your young learners are the key to success when teaching on italki. Remember to be patient, flexible, and creative in your approach, as a memorable and enjoyable session will translate to more bookings, more positive reviews, and more income. You will also be able to build your own confidence and teaching skills while inspiring your child learners on italki. 

Written by: Daniel Shaw (B.A., M.A. TESOL, Dip. TESOL), italki teacher since 2018.