Teaching English to Teenagers
If you haven't had any experience teaching
English to teenagers, it can seem quite nerve-wracking until
you try it.
English Modal Verbs: check out our new series of illustrated workbooks!
Teenagers aren't scary creatures; they can be incredibly rewarding to
teach, and a lot of fun.
The biggest problem teachers, especially new teachers, have when first
teaching teenagers is discipline.
Teens can be high spirited, they often want to test their boundaries,
and impress their friends. All these facts can make it quite difficult to control a class.
Advice for keeping discipline in a class
Every teacher has his or her own methods of keeping discipline.
Some are strict and some are very relaxed.
The important thing is to ensure that the students respect your
authority. There are different ways to do this.
- Some teachers offer incentives for good
behavior and surprisingly even older teenagers love being rewarded for
- Other teachers use sanctions such as extra
work, or not allowing students to participate in fun activities. The
sanctions you have available to you will vary depending on where you
One book that has some great advice regarding discipline is "Getting
the Buggers to Behave" by Sue Cowley, published by Continuum Publishing
Corporation. Although it's a British book, and written for teachers in
British Secondary (High) Schools, the advice in it is invaluable.
Cell phones – yes or no?
Something that is an increasing problem in all classes, not just ESL
classes, and not just with teenagers, is cell phones.
With an adult class, you can trust their judgment a little more, and
most adults won't use their phones inappropriately.
However, with teenagers it's a little different.
At the first sign of boredom, some will start sending or reading SMS
messages, or if they have a smart phone they may start checking social
networking sites, the internet, or email.
Smart phones do have their uses. They often have dictionaries on them,
either installed or via the internet. They can also be used for
research if you are doing projects with your class and don't have
access to the internet in your school or college.
Generally speaking, if you make your policy clear to your class, and
are consistent in how you deal with "offenders," then you won't have
too many problems.
Activities for teenagers
Teenagers are at that important stage between childhood and adulthood.
They want to be treated responsibly, but they still enjoy having fun
during classes. They can also be easily distracted.
It is important to keep the activities varied with teenagers and not to
spend too long on any one thing.
Try to find material that is relevant to them.
For example, it wouldn't be appropriate to base a lesson for teenagers
on renting and furnishing an apartment.
The following subjects are always popular:
- The internet
- The media
But don't underestimate your teens – they can deal with more serious
subjects too and are often very concerned about world issues.
Projects work well if you are teaching teenagers, and they also help
them learn about working as a team.
The following projects are always good choices:
- Making mini movies
- Creating newspapers or magazines
- Designing surveys and asking people's opinions
and writing reports or making presentations of the results
Teaching English to teenagers is great fun.
It can be inspiring for the students and the teacher alike,
and it opens up a completely new area of employment for you to consider.