Is Teaching Young Learners More Challenging Than Teaching Adults?

kkFor any newly qualified TEFL teacher who has limited experience teaching adult classes, the prospect of teaching a class of six year olds or a group of teenagers can be daunting for anyone, and understandably. The question I had when embarking on my first few classes with young learners was how do I teach? Unlike in adult classes where you actively demonstrate your knowledge of English and communicate on a more equal footing, a teacher of young learners, especially of those aged below 10 years ultimately takes on the role of children’s entertainer. For kid’s classes, you need to have a lot of different activities planned beforehand because if you are left thinking on the spot trying to come up with something to do, the kids sense your distraction and this is when chaos starts to ensue in the classroom. If you would like to develop a greater understanding of successful classroom methods for teaching young learners why not sign up to one of the teacher development courses at TEFL in Spain. I took the young learners course after completing the four week TrinityCert TESOL qualification in Malaga. I found it beneficial as I was able to see the contrast in teaching methods between adults and children and listen to advice about teaching children from an experienced teacher. I learnt that much more energy is required for teaching kids and that you have to lose your inhibitions, and not fear interaction with them.

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Classroom Management 

I find the best way to control a class of young learners is to have an activity at the beginning of the class that will engage them and tire them out so that they are able to sit down and complete a small worksheet at the end of the lesson. The classes I teach love to play ‘Simon Says’ or we sing the ‘Wheels on the Bus’ to calm everyones’ excitement from entering the class. More importantly, young learners need visual and kinaesthetic prompting to absorb the language most effectively. My best advice for teaching kids would be to enjoy it because if you let them know you are happy and relaxed then it is most likely that they will be too. Additionally, for classroom management, it is helpful to create a star chart which is visible to the students every time they come to class. Then make sure you remind them of it before you begin the lesson. This strategy works because they are so eager to get new stars by their name for good behaviour and not have any removed for bad behaviour I never have any problems.

Teaching Teenagers

Teenagers, on the other hand, are a different story. Your first couple of lessons with teenagers are when you need to be the most assertive. This is especially true if you are a replacing a previous teacher who they were used to and respected. Just like much younger learners, teenagers enjoy playing games and tend to work more efficiently during the class if everyone has got moving and interacting from the start. It is important to engage the teenagers and not allow them to sit next to the same person every week which helps to avoid any sluggish behaviour in the classroom. It is also necessary to adjust the topics every week so they are relevant to what they are interested in. It is vital to ask questions and let them express opinions on topics they like. This way  you get a positive response in the target language.

Teaching Cambridge Exam Classes

Do you want to help your students pass the Cambridge Exams? TEFL in Spain offer an online course (+optional teaching practice) that will equip you with necessary insight into exam techniques so that your students will have the best chance of passing the exam. The course focusses on the Cambridge First Certificate Exam as it is most popular with students around the world as well as in Spain. This teacher development course is nevertheless relevant to teachers of other Cambridge Exams (KET, PET, CAE, CPE) because the exams all share similar task types.

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  • Comment by Cheryl lewis on November 9, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks. I got some great ideas for my first YL class in Vietnam

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