TEFL TIPS #7 – Sticker Charts

This is by no means an original idea—in fact, most ESL teachers probably don’t need me to tell them how to use a sticker chart effectively—but I am going to list some of the benefits associated with using this handy classroom tool.

Sticker charts actually divide opinion among the teachers I know. Many (myself included) find them to be a useful tool in the classroom and would be lost without them.

However, others argue that it uses fear in that a child will be afraid of failing and not receive a sticker or feel shamed if they fall behind their classmates on their chart. This may also be true but unfortunately, in an ESL classroom with younger learners, the language barrier is an issue and not all instructions are fully understood. There needs to be a method in place to translate to the kids that bad behavior won’t be tolerated and good behavior is to be rewarded.

– Discipline

I would say that a lot of the good behavior in my classroom is because the students understand that if they don’t behave they won’t receive a sticker at the end of the day. I can combat any naughty behavior with the simple question: “Do you want a sticker?” Ideally, it would never get to this point, but it happens.

– Encouraging English

Encouraging English is very important in any ESL classroom, students may be more motivated to talk more if they will receive a reward at the end of class.

– Minimizing Native Language

Unsurprisingly stickers can also be used to minimize the amount of talking the students do in their native tongue in a similar manner to how they are used to control discipline.

Teaches about goals/working toward something long-term

Children often count down the days until they finish their chart.  This is great at helping them understand the concept of long term goals.
Learning to be excited for others’ accomplishments

Students always find it fun to see someone pick their prize and find out what it is.  This may be because they can see what potential prize they could get or because they are genuinely excited for their classmate.

A sticker chart is by no means a perfect system, but it is easily understood by younger learners and can be used in a variety of ways.


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