Young teens (ages 10 – 12)

Thursday 29thNovember 2018

As with Tuesday, the day began with an 8.30 training session in Quan 1, itself preceded by a 45-minute Grabbike ride (though far too much of said ride was sitting in direct sunlight at every red light). This time, however, I was paired with the very wonderful Ms Melinda (Viet-born but educated in Texas) who’s making her teaching debut tonight, so best of British to her.

This is my first young learners’ class, and I’m expecting them to be 10 – 12 years old … but we will see. The ages were right, and the class had only 13 students. The girls seemed sweet and polite, motivated and friendly. And then the first boy arrived; he looked trouble. A heavy-set, thuggish lad who kept coming into then leaving the room. As the class started, three other boys arrived, causing disruption as they loudly greeted each other with hugs and shouts. Reminded me of a similarly-aged class at another top school with pre-teen boys being hard to control, and here there was no TA; instead, a chance to match theory against practice, hope against experience.

I began by eliciting class rules then a good old STB, replacing ‘bus’ with ‘taxi’. What do they know about UK ? A simplified version of Tuesday’s game.

This lead to …

Try the birthday horseshoe game, IF they know the names of the months in English.

Here, one part of the room represents January, the opposite, December. The students must stand in a horse-shoe shape, according to when their birthday falls.

At this level, give more guidance to where students should stand.

Not a complete success. Students seemed to grasp the idea, then some people standing in the summer area said they were born in December – others told them where to stand, so that shows my instructions had to been clear to most. The problem was getting them to stand next to each other, in date order, as opposed to bunching together in one indeterminate mass. In binary terms, a failure, a flop, not a fiasco, it fell flat (but at least I make up for it with alliteration).

This lead to …

A run & write activity. I write incorrect sentences on the board. Split class into teams (they can name them themselves, assign a colour pen to each team), and one member must rewrite the sentence correctly:

What are your name ?

I eats fruit

How old is you ?

What is your hobbies

He like swim

What you do think

There isn’t a chocolate

Why is your friend

It was around this time that the aforementioned student boy 1 (SB1) hurled a plastic bottle, after several outbursts of shouting, at another student. I put his name in the class diary, which, if repeated, could lead to the school phoning his parents. He latter asked if teachers in England have a cane to whip students (apparently they don’t in VN, they just use their fists). I explained it was illegal. However, I have a pen which writes in the diary which alerts the managers who, in turn, alert the parents. The possibility of that had the desired effect. The pen, again, mightier than the fists of a Viet teacher.

On tactic in deflated the young Alpha-male is to give them a modicum of power. That is one possibility, though I prefer a ‘Taming of the Shrew’ approach, try to tame him. Patience and tolerance, with a threat of repercussion seem to work well.

Today’s theme is Free Time. The warm-ups should review previous lessons and lead into the topic.

This lead to …

Word Bomb – Hobbies – what do they do in their free time ?

Listen out for mistakes and encourage full sentences and drill collocations 

(Play sports / do homework / make models / go swimming– note present continuous).

First signs of my patience cracking. Asking the boys their hobbies, I was getting the usual rubbish such as “I like killing with a pen, I like killing with a knife …,” while some other students began (understandably) chatting among themselves. A quick shout for silence and a reprimand to answer seriously worked its charm … and so I commended them for their new replies. 

Check for time – activities up to 45 mins then book work. 

If time, can have students mime an activity and drill full collocation

play piano      play table tennis     listen to music     read a book          go swimming

The boys all like to join in any activity. Some of the girls are the opposite, two being very, very shy, and one of whom appears to be on the verge of bursting into floods.


Start by eliciting as much information from the photos.

Then use the Mingle – interview sheet. This will get the class up and active before break time, and after sitting through book work and listening exercises. 

Can also encourage introducing themselves:

Find 3 people who:

Name                                       1                                       2                                    3


Play an instrument

Draw or paint

Read books

Watch films

Learn English

Have a pet
What pet ?

“Hi, I’m Anna. Do you like watching TV ?”

Pronunciation – phonemes

ɑ          ɔː         əʊ

Swat the correct phoneme

In teams, read out:     model        disco      show    on    door      go       walk 

Players must swat the correct phoneme


Reading and work books. Check answers as a class to prevent students sitting doing nothing. Use some form of running dictate game.

Pre-teaching:   Match the words with the meanings

describe                        planned, in order, not a mess

imagine                        having to do too many things

typical                          feeling you have too much work

pressure                      normal, usual

organised                    to tell what something looks or like

community                 to think about something

stressed                       the place or area where you live

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