How Do I create an all English (mostly English) classroom for 4 yr olds

At my school we stress an all English environment. We tell the students constantly to speak English please. My students’ English is very good for 4 years old and I realize they don’t know a lot of things so in that case I tell then to ask the CT if they don’t know the English word.

Sometimes they will say something in Chinese that we know they know how to say it in English. I’ve tried giving more stars if they speak more English (which at the end of the week if they’re good they may get a toy if they have the most stars) I’m thinking of starting to use stickers as well.

What incentives if any do you use to encourage young children to speak only (mostly) English and has it worked? Thanks.

I have a class of kids from 4-10 and I am the only teacher in the class. This class is 3 hours long Mon-Fri.

The one boy, Daniel who is around 4 years old use to always speak to me in Chinese. I would nod my head and be like, “Oh wow!.”
I could tell that he was trying to tell me something cool that he saw or whatever.

Now, Daniel has a pretty good vocabulary but cannot make sentences to well. So he’ll use 1 word in English, some Chinese, and gestures.

So, I now I know him well enough to guess. He’ll say something like, “Top. Fast. Bang!” I’ll say, “Oh, so you have a top that goes round and round very fast! And it hits the other top?”

I guess you are in a tougher situation because the kids know you speak

Chinese (or someone in the class does). Basically, I would only speak English back to the children.

You can also give the childen the foundation of the sentences they are trying to convey and let them finish it. My kids will say “Wesley sticker.” I will answer, “I want a …” or “This is my…” and the student will catch on and say, “This is my sticker.” or “I want a sticker.”

The school I work at also has a list of “daily English” that the kids slearn. So, things like “I dont feel well.” or “May I have a drink please” are covered.

Hope this helps!

The school I work at also has a list of “daily English” that the kids slearn. So, things like “I dont feel well.” or “May I have a drink please” are covered.[/quote]

We also use a “Daily English” list (100 sentences) that we teach the kids just to use around the school. It works very well.

I would also recommend making sure that your students answer in complete sentences. “Do you like pizza?” should be answered, “Yes, I like pizza”, instead of “Yes, I do.”

If it’s a proper immersion English class, the key is that they’ll be in a 100% English enviroment, so the only way to communicate is by speaking English. This is incentive enough. The most important thing is for the Chinese teachers, supervisors, the girl on the front desk and everyone speaking only English. They might still speak Chinese with each other, but after they get used to it, there’ll be more and more English. What the Chiene teacher has to do is listen to what they say in Chinese, and make sure that they can use English to say everything they want to talk about. Taht’s why I think understanding Chinese comes in useful for teaching English. I listen to what kids say when they’re playing with each other and try and teach them English equivalents.


This way of ‘reflecting back’ a correct way of saying something is very sound from a developmental point of view, particularly with pre-school age children. I’ve read about it being used to improve mother tongue use as well. When learning their mother language, children start by ‘regularising’ it so they may say something like “John have two cars.” You just reflect back the correct version and say “Yes, John has two cars.”

That’s good. Giving them a foundation but still making them do the work and put the sentence together.

Thanks for the replies but that’s not exactly what I was looking for. My kids can speak in complete sentences. We drill sentence patterns everyday and they have an extensive vocabulary (I’ve had them since February).

My CT is speaking less Chinese to them and will tell them I can’t understand you if you speak Chinese, speak English. I don’t speak Chinese so of couurse I speak Engligh all day to them. I’d say the staff speaks 75%-80% English to them. I think it might be laziness that they know how to say it in English but still revert to Chinese.

I want to know what can I do as far as motivation such as rewards. Does anyone use a reward system to encourage English all the time and has this worked?

OK, I guess we misunderstood!

Bribery works well. Sounds like you are already using a sticker system or something right?

Teams are good, they will do anything for stars. I make sure there is a winner (or winning team) at the end of each class. Pair up the kids, strong student with weak student works wonders for me.

The school I work at gives cards and those cards can be exchanged for a prize. There are smaller and bigger prizes.

I usually use candy. Cheap ones from 7-11. I use stickers too.

If the kids are not motivated…maybe some cool games would help. Is that what you are looking for?

I find that kids under 10 or so in Taiwan will do ANYTHING! It’s the junior and senior high students that are completely braindead (unmotivated -is that a word?).

Maybe your kids are little spoiled or something (I don’t know)? If that’s the case, then be mean. Sometimes you gotta be mean to keep em clean. I can’t stand spoiled brats.

TPR is very important too. Have the kids standing up and sitting down, moving around and all that. Have them move their chairs around depending on the activity. When I first came to Taiwan I had all my students sitting in a horseshoe shape because that’s how they were when I got to class. Now, we sit in a circle, in pairs, or whatever. And the chairs are constantly being moved around.

Have the kids act out the stories, that is fun!

For my older students, I have a month-long reward system that goes on them earning a point automatically each day. They earn a bonus point if everyone returns their library books on time. They earn two points if everyone turns in their weekly homework on time. They earn two more points if the average score on the spelling and vocabulary test comes out to minus one point out of the total possible (very close on two different weeks). They can lose half a point for speaking Chinese (unless they are asking how to say a word in English), getting off task, playing around, or being disrespectful to me, their peers, or the classroom. I gave them some minor rewards to help keep them motivated for the long run such as having so many points at the end of certain points meant a games day, a cooking activity, or getting to choose an activity. Their final prize is a Halloween party with a bonus surprise if they reached a certain amount of points above the daily points. After the first week, I have not heard any Chinese spoken by my students while they are in my class or in the hallways. A former teacher at my school had cups of little crystal rocks in them that the kids (pre-kindergarten age) liked. She put them up on the wall where they could see, but not reach. Each day the class had a good day behaviorally, she added crystals to everyone’s cup. If they spoke Chinese or acted up, they lost crystals. It was very motivating for them to see a tangible reward such as crystals being added and subtracted and they don’t fall off or rot your teeth like stickers or candy do.