Teaching Children Numbers in ESL
For children to be able to tell the time in English they must be able to count from one to twelve. There are hundreds of language games enabling teachers to teach English vocabulary to children and so many of them include original and fun ways to teach children how to count.
Using flashcards activities is always an effective way to teach children but the disadvantage of using them to teach children how to count is that numbers tend to be learned as a whole with this method. Although children are able to recite numbers in the correct order they are unable to pick out one number and say what it is in their native language. This may also be true for the rocket game where children count from one to ten before letting go of and launching their blown-up balloon as a rocket going off into space. However, these two methods are ideal for teaching children number vocabulary, which can later be used in other games to differentiate numbers and use them to tell the time later on.
A way to make sure that children do not learn their numbers as a whole when using flashcard activities is to mix them up and show them to the class in a jumbled order. Children may need time to count the pictures on the flashcards but this is not an important setback as long as they are capable of understanding what the number is and use the correct English word to name the number.
What’s the time, Mr Wolf?
"What's the Time, Mr Wolf?" is a favourite of children learning English as a second language. Once children can count from one to twelve, they can play this game to revise and understand number vocabulary as well as to begin the process of telling the time in English.
This game can be played indoors or outdoors and with a small or large group of children.
- Children line up on a line or at the back of the classroom and hold hands
- One child who is the wolf stands with his back to the rest of the class against the opposite wall or at least 20 metres away from the others
- The first child in the line asks the wolf, "What's the time, Mr Wolf?"
- The wolf answers randomly by using a sentence like, "It's five o' clock."
- The entire line of children must advance five steps
- Each child in the line has a chance to ask the time and each time the line must advance the number of corresponding steps
- At any time the wolf can turn and shout "It's time to eat!" and try and catch a child who will then become the next wolf
This is a simple ESL telling time vocabulary English lesson for ages 5-7 that makes learning and understanding numbers and the time fun for children. Older children also enjoy playing this game, which can be used as revision for them.