There are three key phrases I teach all my beginning students, regardless of age.
I don’t know!
Number 1 on my list. I want my students to speak English as much as they can. I would rather them say I don’t know over and over again, then for them to answer me in their native language. I teach them in the very first lesson how to throw up a shrug, stick on the bottom lip and mumble IdunnOh. I want to teach them it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to not know. That’s why we have lessons.
What’s this? It’s a…
The most basic sentence structure is noun + verb. I like my students to ask questions, to explore the language in their own way. This is true of children or adult of any age. Like I don’t know I want them to use English as often as I can. Teaching this phrase early on allows them to stay in English even when they don’t know what something is called. I teach this phrase through ad-nauseam, like most of my phrases. I also use the exact same intonation every time. I also do not worry about plurals or singulars (What’s this? vs. What are these?). Even toddlers learn to mimic this question.
After they have learned this, then I add the correct demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those).
What are you doing? I’m —ing.
We need some verbs to go with our nouns. The most commonly used verb tense, although not the easiest, is Present Continuous. This is what we use to say what we are doing right now. Action verbs are the most relatable, easiest to show, and the most fun to do.
Once we’ve learned this form, we can begin to build our vocabulary with different verbs.
Now we know how to make a basic noun + verb sentence and I don’t know how to fill in the gaps. We build from there.