How To Teach ESL/EFL To Presschool/Kindergarten Aged 3-6.  Part Two: Case Study

How To Teach ESL/EFL To Presschool/Kindergarten Aged 3-6. Part Two: Case Study


Case Study: Making A Weekly Learning Progression for ESL/EFL Beginner Young Learners Aged 3-6.


In part one we discussed what EFL/ESL students need in an English course and the importance of logical progression and structure. In part two we will apply this to creating a language course for them and see the results in a real case study.


This case study is done on 52 students aged 3-6 over a month-long unit. Every student will have the same weekly progression, no matter of age or ability. However, during individual and small group work I will focus on what each student needs, whether that be reviewing the vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, or practicing more advanced sentences. 


The students are all of mixed ability, about half are complete beginners who have no English ability prior, need a lot of work with pronunciation, and have no or next to no English knowledge. Out of the remainder, most may already know a few of the vocabulary words, but won’t know the sentences, whilst the remainder - 8  students - have a decent knowledge of English, and may know half to most of the vocabulary before this unit and can learn the sentences and pronunciation quicker - although they still need a lot of practice remembering prepositions and harder vocabulary words in Readers C and D.

The Central Role of the Reader

The Reader is central and will introduce all the target sentences for oral and aural practice - as well as showing good literacy habits. Through guided reading sessions I will break down syllables and practice the phonics and pronunciation of the words and convey meaning.

The Readers and weekly structure. 

The progression will happen in 4 readersused weekly to make a monthly unit based on a topic.

Unit topic: Transportation                                                                                     


Here is the weekly progression and structure of the Readers for the unit:

Week 1 Reader A

New words: a car, a truck, a bus, a train, a submarine, a boat, a ship, a motorcycle, a bicycle, a rocket, a helicopter, an airplane, a UFO, an ambulance, a fire engine, a police car


Structure = (preposition +noun)



Week 2 Reader B 

New words: I see a/an…

Reader sentence example: I see a car, I see a UFO, I see an airplane.

Structure = (subject + verb) + (prep + noun)

Structure = (week 2 + week 1)


Week 3 Reader C

New words: on the land, in the air, on the water, in the water, in space 

Reader sentence example: I see a car on the land, I see a helicopter in the air, I see a ship on the water.

Structure = (subject + verb) + (prep + noun) + (new prep+ new noun)

Structure = (week 2) + (week 1) + (week 3)


Week 4 Reader D

New words: fast, long, big, slow, powerful, weird

Reader sentence examples: I see a fast car on the land, I see a big submarine in the water, I see a small boat on the water.

Structure = (subject+ verb) + (adjective) + (prep + noun) + (prep + noun)

Structure = (week 2) + (week 4) + (week 1) + (week 3)


Weekly teaching goals:

Monthly unit exposure

Each student will have 1 individual/ small group lesson a week lasting around 20 minutes, and two 30-minute large group classes with about 16 students altogether. 

Their exposure to the unit will be approximately 1 hour 20 minutes a week and 5 hours 20 minutes over the month-long unit.


The weekly lesson activities:

Every learning session throughout the week - both individual and group sessions - will have a short, guided reading session to expose them to as much of the target sentence building as possible, the remainder of the lesson will use other activities/games/songs/ to support the unit.

Small group/individual activities (approximately 20 minutes)


 Video examples of Reader practice


Video examples of small group game and activities


 Large group class lesson example (30 minutes a lesson)


Large Lesson Group Game Videos from the month 


Transportation Results after a month.

 The results were very positive.

Here is a table showing the level the students reached after a month. To achieve a level, students need to be able to show for listening or say at least eight of the target sentences for speaking of that level without any help. 

Out of the first group - the complete beginners - most knew and correctly pronounced at least 10 of the vocabulary words by themselves without any assistance. Four still need quite a bit of help pronouncing the majority of the vocabulary. Most are confident speaking the sentences from level B. All of them understood aurally what is being said in Levels C and D (in the air, in the water, fast, powerful..etc), and a few got quite capable of using adjectives correctly from level D, although they do often need prompting and support speaking levels C and D.

 Of the students who already had some prior knowledge of a few of the vocabulary words before the unit, most correctly pronounced all of the 16 vocabulary words, although there sometimes were one or two vocabulary words they needed some prompts to remember. Most quickly picked up level B and the sentence pattern. Like the complete beginner group, they needed some guidance as they sometimes mix up land, air, and water, when practicing Level C, but a few were quite capable of using Level C and D. 

The higher-level group picked up all the vocabulary over the month and reached a good understanding and used Level D relatively consistently. They seemed to enjoy experimenting and expanding the sentence structure further, substituting different vocabulary, adjectives, and prepositions from outside the unit into the sentence structure.

Overall, the structure and unit worked well. I am more than happy with the progress as every student throughout the month improved, showed confidence, and was motivated to learn. The structure and ease of differentiation for all levels gave something for everyone and also made it attainable and understandable for all students, thus increasing motivation, enjoyment and confidence to learn.  This in turn helped all students speak more which of course helped improve their rate of progress, pronunciation and general English ability. Every age and ability had some aspect that was challenging useful and interesting for them and overall I am more than happy with the structure and how it helped make the learning and teaching more enjoyable and rewarding. 






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