Using a sticker chart when teaching TEFL 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. I think it’s important to note that studies suggest sticker charts are used most effectively when teaching ages 3 – 8 years old.
Sticker charts actually divide opinion among the teachers I know. Many (myself included) find them to be a useful instrument in the classroom, and would be lost without them.
However, others say that they use fear to control and motivate . They argue that a child would be afraid of failing, and not receiving a sticker would cause them to feel ashamed in front of their classmates.
This may also be true, but unfortunately, in an ESL classroom with younger learners, the language barrier is a problematic issue and not all instructions are fully understood. There needs to be a method in place to translate to the students that bad behavior won’t be tolerated and good behavior is to be rewarded.
So, with that said, I think the benefits of using sticker charts outweigh the negatives. Here’s why –
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 in English if they were to receive a reward at the end of class.
– Minimizing the use of Native Language
Unsurprisingly, stickers can also be used to minimize the amount of talking the students do in their native tongue.
–Teaches about goals/working toward something long-term
Children often count down the days until they finish their chart and receive their reward. 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 a classmate 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 friend.
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.
Check out these fantastic sticker chart resources: