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Differences Between Two Learning Modes: Young Students vs. Adults

Differences Between Two Learning Modes: Young Students vs. Adults | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Learning English has become a relevant goal for both adults and children these days. Before starting a career as a teacher one should decide who he or she wants to teach. What is the main difference between adults and children when it comes to studying? Let’s discuss the most important points.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Anastasiia Al. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


Children learn English because they have to do it. We need to keep in mind that children usually learn the language when they are forced by their parents. Of course, some children enjoy English, but mostly it was not their choice to study. In any case, the teacher needs to support the natural interest of the child.

When it comes to adults, the situation is more simply because they decide to learn English on their own. They are already motivated. They came into the classroom because they wanted to, no one forced them, they made this decision themselves. And they do realize what they need to study the language for and how the knowledge they are getting during the lesson will help them in the future.

Also Read: Team-teaching: The Good and The Ugly


Another difference is the large life experience of adults compared to children. During the lessons, students often have discussions as a part of the speaking practice. Unlike children, adults can actively participate in a conversation, sharing their personal experiences and thoughts on this or that topic.

Classroom Behavior

It is not worth mentioning that discipline with younger students is often a big problem. The teacher usually spends a great amount of time to establish discipline in the classroom with young learners. But if you teach adults, the time that you would spend on discipline with children, will be spent on learning.

Also Read: How English Teaching Should be Adjusted to Online Learning?

Teaching Approach

I’d also like to indicate that lessons with children have to be more artistic, emotional, and mobile. As children have very short attention spans it’s the task of a teacher to grab their attention and make sure they are constantly involved in the lesson. To keep the child concentrated the teacher should change activities every 5-10 minutes and make sure activities are varied. It’s important to include a lot of kinesthetic activities because young learners need to move from time to time.

Adults have higher requirements for quality and learning outcomes. A lot of them consciously monitor their learning progress and expect to see the result of their studying soon. It’s also a fact that adult students strive for the immediate application of their knowledge and skills in everyday or professional life.

Also Read: The 8 Best Classroom Tools Every Teacher Should Use

For children, a teacher is a mentor, authority. For an adult - an equal, perhaps even a friend.

An adult student is an independent, self-governing person with great life experience.

Despite all the differences, I am convinced that the language level of an English teacher should be high, no matter if he works with children or adults.

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In conclusion, let’s admit that every teacher must understand that young learners and adults treat new languages in a completely different way. Understanding the perception of different age groups can surely help a teacher to develop a relevant approach to his students. But still, no matter what age group you teach, if you have a solid lesson plan, patience, and understanding of the goals and needs of your students, you’ll succeed.

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