Teaching teenagers in the EFL Classroom: How to overcome certain difficulties?
Diary submitted by Laura B.
This assignment aims to address the topic of teaching teenagers in the EFL classroom; in particular, certain difficulties that may arise and how you can overcome them. I will discuss this topic using my own experience as well as the knowledge and experience of others who have wrote about the subject
“I do believe that teenage groups can be the most rewarding. When you see how much progress they have made, when they have become more responsible for their own learning, how they have grown up and when you and they both feel sad on the last day of the year because you won’t see each other for three months, then it is really worth it” (Worgan, 2010).
In my experience, the main problem I have come across whilst teaching teenagers is trying to motivate them and get them to actively engage in the teaching process. A lot of the teenage students openly admit that they are only here because their parents have forced them to come, not because they genuinely want to learn. After being told this, it is important to not be disheartened by what they have said and continue the lesson with a positive attitude towards teaching. You have to remember what it was like when you were learning different subjects at school and having to sit through lessons that you had no interest in at all.
In order to keep clearly uninterested or shy teenagers engaged in the lesson, I like to use humour. Once you make them laugh, they start to come out of their shell and feel more comfortable in the teaching environment. Humour can also prevent them from being bored throughout the lesson. Every teenager I have taught loves to speak about what sports they play and what they do with their friends and family in their spare time. I always start each lesson with a ‘warmer’, asking questions related to these topics. This allows them to relax and feel more comfortable answering questions. It can be quite nerve racking reading a large amount of text to a teacher for the first time and it is obvious when the teenage student is nervous. If you start with the warmer before they read the text, this should definitely calm their nerves.
Despite the large number of students that are clearly only at the lesson because of their parents’ decision, there are still a decent amount of teenage pupils that genuinely want to learn English and try their very best each lesson. When I ask teenage students why they want to learn English, without fail, every one of them replies with the same answer; it is vital for them to have a good level of English in order to widen their job prospects and University options in the future. It is great that they know this and take it upon themselves to do the best they can to increase their level of English.
Another common reply from a lot of students is that the English teachers they have at school are of a poor standard and they tend to learn an unsatisfactory amount during the school lessons. When this is the case, these students tend to be more difficult to teach. They have a lot more grammar and pronunciation problems as they have never been taught by a native English teacher or in general, any teacher with a good level of English. As long as you have patience with these students and use appropriate teaching techniques for each problem you come across, you will see huge improvements after each lesson.
Overall, there are some important factors you need to consider when teaching teenagers; specifically, motivation techniques and ensuring shy students can relax throughout each lesson. Once you get to know each teenage student well, it is a great feeling knowing you are improving their English to a standard that their previous teacher could not achieve. It’s also great when the previous students that didn’t want to be there out of choice from the beginning start becoming a lot more enthusiastic every time they come to class.
Worgan, M. (2010). Tips for Teaching Teens. [Online] available at: http://www.teachingvillage.org/2010/06/29/tips-for-teaching-teens-by-michelle-worgan/ Accessed 20/07/2016