Teaching English to Teenagers


Teaching English to TeenagersIf you haven't had any experience teaching English to teenagers, it can seem quite nerve-wracking until you try it.

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 something.
  • 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 are working.
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
  • Celebrities
  • Music 
  • Sports
  • Fashion
  • 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.

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