Each week, GeoVisions posts an actual email from a Conversation Corps tutor, a Conversation Partner or a full time teacher abroad on a GeoVisions program. We call the series, Help Me Teach Abroad.
Our Help Me Teach desk is manned by Betsy Bruneau, a full time ESL teacher here. She gives teaching assistance to GeoVisions' participants by phone, email and Skype. It is a FREE service that GeoVisions provides to all of our participants and they can have access to Betsy before they depart and during the program. If we can help you be an amazing teacher or tutor, you will be happy, your students or host family will be happy, you will tell people they should try this out and we will have a repeat family and school. And that's how we want to roll.
You can find a lot of these posts by clicking on the Help Me Teach tag. You can find that over on the right side of this screen. The tag box looks like this one. We will put all of our Help Me Teach posts right there. And who knows...one of these days we'll have enough to make up our own E-Book, which of course we'll give away for FREE.
The children you will be charged with teaching are at such an ideal age and really language hungry. They are also at an age where they are probably really uninhibited about trying words and pronunciations and the like. I think that you have exactly the right idea; play with the kids. It's the best way for them to learn and they'll never even know they're doing it. I wouldn't spend too much time or money on games. I think playing games is an excellent idea.
Play games from your childhood, like Duck Duck Goose or Mother May I. Play simple card games like Concentration with fewer cards since the children are so young (actually any type of matching game is excellent). Play Hide and Seek and Tag. The whole time that you are playing with them you will be conversing which is the best way for them to learn. If I were to bring anything with me it would be Richard Scarry's Word Book. There are a few different ones. My own daughters read them far past the recommended ages because they have captivating illustrations and are very easy to understand. Another good author is Eric Carle, especially Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?
Take advantage of every interaction with the children to converse with them. So this would include when you are eating, shopping, playing, bathing, walking, etc. You are probably going to be seen as a big play mate and not a teacher, which is a nice way to be recognized. I would also go to the library with the kids and see to what books and topics they are drawn. Then try to focus your ideas and lessons on their interests. You are much more likely to keep their attention.
Also, sing with them. Basic silly songs, the alphabet song, whatever. We all learn more efficiently when we can sing it and are much more likely to remember the subject.
I can give you much more detailed and structured lessons, Kaite, but I think you have the right idea by keeping it informal. Let me know how it is going.