How To Teach ESL EFL Preschool/Kindergarten.  Part One:  What Do Students Need?

How To Teach ESL EFL Preschool/Kindergarten. Part One: What Do Students Need?

PART ONE: Understanding EFL/ESL Preschool/ Kindergarten Characteristics in More Detail.


We all want to be better teachers, experience increased job satisfaction, and know we are making a positive difference to the next generation. The better we become as teachers, the easier teaching is, and the higher our self-esteem and general well-being are.

Yüksel & Halıcı, (2010) identified 9 characteristics young EFL learners possess. In this post, I will discuss characteristic number 4:

 “They have an analytical way of learning rather than an intuitive”

This article specifically refers to young ESL/EFL learners aged 3-6, what unique challenges they face, and how we as teachers can improve and apply this knowledge to our course structure.

Let’s begin by asking, what does “analytical learning rather than intuitive” mean?

It means young learners acquire knowledge through cause and effect, progressing step by step with logic. Activities that involve pattern recognition, logical reasoning, clear routines, and labeled activities with a logical flow are important. 

What does it mean for teaching EFL/ESL learners?

It means it is essential to follow a structured and logical progression, providing them with a framework they can begin to understand and build a solid base and foundation on which they can expand.

This structured and logical progression is crucial for better learning and increasing confidence and understanding of language.

In order to understand what a logical progression for ESL learners would be, we need to understand what EFL/ESL learners require on a course.

What are beginner EFL/ESL course requirements?


1. Needs to create interest and motivation.

It goes without saying, but EFL/ESL young learners need a course to be interesting and motivating as they are far more likely to learn well if they are interested and motivated. Also, Unlike native English learners, they do not have to learn English to communicate; it requires a more conscious effort to be motivated to learn something which they may not deem essential to learn. Therefore, ensuring interesting content, that is attainable and motivating for them to want to learn is important. 

To help build interest and motivation we need to ensure:

  • The content is suitable for their level and presented in a way that is attainable for them to learn.
  • The design, graphics and layout of the content are interesting.
  • The presentation and delivery of the course are done with relevant enthusiasm
  • The method of delivery and teaching is varied and interesting (incorporates various activities and learning games)


  1. The need to build listening and speaking first.

Compared to young native English speakers, ESL/EFL learners aged 3-6 do not have the phonemic awareness that native English learners have. Therefore, we need to build up a phonological base and phonemic awareness. A phonological base is built through exposure—introducing language sounds and speech patterns, building oral (speaking) and aural (listening) English first.


  1. The need for literacy practice and the role of first readers.

EFL/ESL young learners do need literacy practice to be an integral part of learning English, but the use and purpose of literacy practice for beginner ESL/EFL may differ as we need them to develop a phonemic awareness before moving on to phonic reading and decodable Readers.

The purpose of the first readers for young EFL/ESL beginners is to aid interest and motivation in learning while exposing them to reading habits. It is to show reading rather than to teach reading. To demonstrate good reading habits, how the text works from left to right, how syllables are broken down, and how we look at text to read. It exposes them to grammar on a page and shows how the young learners how to navigate the text.

As we need them to build oral and aural skills first - we use the readers primarily for building and aiding oral English and therefore need  common, natural sentences and language patterns with essential vocabulary.  

Should we use decodable readers?

Decodable Readers are excellent when students are ready and have developed a phonemic awareness. Decodable readers often use unnatural language patterns as they are guided by phonics rather than natural sentence or language patterns. We need young EFL/ESL learners to become familiar with and use natural language patterns and sentence progressions first. As established before, we also have to ensure young learners are interested and motivated to learn, and this is harder with books and storylines based around a phonic structure, which limits the storyline and topic and limits the use of new and essential vocabulary. Building vocabulary is highly important for young ESL learners.


We need an English course that:  

  • Has good presentation, graphics, and design to help interest and motivation.
  • Develops oral, and aural practice first to build phonemic awareness.
  • Uses natural, useful sentence structures.
  • Introduces good literacy habits.
  • Builds vocabulary.
  • Has a structure geared toward analytical learning and logical progression rather than intuition. 


To see a CASE STUDY and Part Two of what has been discussed in this article click here:  How To Teach ESL/EFL To Young Learners Aged 3-6. Part Two: Case Study – blooeefun

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.