8.4 Teaching Teenagers
As high school students transition into adolescents, many social, personal, and psychological aspects come into play, and teachers need to be prepared to work effectively with this age group. When we think back to our adolescent years, we had thoughts of school being tedious, authority figures being the villains, and learning another language as a useless attempt. The mindsets of many young adults overseas are no different.
Before you start to dread the prospect of teaching English to a classroom of teenagers, let us look at a few tips on how we can approach learning with this age group.
- Be a team leader: Show your students some compassion, take an interest in their personal lives, and at the same time lead them through lessons and exercises. Instead of going into class and seeing yourself as an authority figure, imagine yourself as a team captain or an adviser amongst a group of co-workers. Let them know that you are on their side and that you know how it feels to be in their shoes. Having this mindset will help you earn respect vital to succeed with this age group.
- Be a role model: If they approve of you as a person, they will be more willing to follow your directions and listen to you when they get out of hand. Try to make them see you as different, interesting, and that you care about how they feel.
- Make yourself the target of humour: Done correctly, making yourself the figure of fun makes your students feel comfortable in your classes; this will most likely raise their levels of respect for you if you see the funny side of life. If you take yourself too seriously when teaching teenagers, it lowers your chances of creating a comfortable learning environment. Sensibly make fun of yourself when the occasion occurs.
- Research their interests: Find out more about famous singers, movie stars, and figures of fun in the country. If the answer to impressing younger students is caring about their interests, you should go more in-depth and adequately understand their interests with teenagers. Try to create more material they have a connection to. Include these people into your lesson, use them in a sentence accompanying a new piece of grammar, have them write stories including them, get them to analyse pictures of them, etc.
- An English class at this level will not involve jumping around and making animal noises. However, when faced with this potentially lazy age group, you must not let them mould into their chairs in the lesson and spend too long fantasising about events outside school, get them moving when possible. Set activities that involve moving around get them up to brainstorm ideas on the board and ask each other questions, etc.
- Keep the dry content quiet: If you have an especially dry piece of reading to concentrate on, find ways to make it more enjoyable, rewrite a part of it to make it more fun, and make fun of the characters. If your plan for the lesson is to teach something difficult, do not make them aware of what you are trying to teach. Start by giving them situations and explaining that we use a particular piece of language in these cases, then go into a few activities to practice it.