How to Teach Young Learners vs How to Teach Adults
2019-05-16 Jon ITTT Alumni Experiences
Learning is something essential in anyone's life, not only as a human being but as a species. As humans we start learning about everything in our environment the moment we come into this world and this experience of learning proceeds with us throughout our lives till the moment we leave this world. The more we learn the more knowledge we accumulate, which will help us, as individuals or societies, to improve our lives in every way possible as long as we use this knowledge that we have learned and apply it correctly in our daily lives. It is evident that learning happens through communication and interaction between an individual and his/her environment and the main tool for interaction and communication for humans is language. Thus, language learning is essential for self-development, and here comes the essential role of a language teacher in any society.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ali R.
The difference between adult and young learners
It is important for teachers to recognize the learning ability of the students, then plan the course which is intended to be taught to the students accordingly. While it is obvious that every individual has different motives, interests, and abilities when it comes to learning a new language, it can be generalized that young learners are less motivated but tend to pick up new language faster than their adult counterparts. While adults are more motivated but tend to be slower learners than their young counterparts. Accordingly, the teacher's methods used when it comes to teaching young learners have to be different from those used for adults.
Strategies for teaching young learners
When it comes to teaching young learners, the teacher's creativity is the key to success in the teaching process, because the minds of young learners tend to be flexible and accepting to new ideas and approaches. Also, the creativity of the teacher will be reflected on the students and encourage them to be more creative as well, which will be very beneficial for a young learner as an adult in the future. Fun is another key part of teaching and learning. Therefore, classes must be packed with fun, playful activities, experimenting with new things, and games that will give young learners the motivation to learn. It is well known that playing is the best way to learn at a young age. However, this kind of learning has to be controlled by the teacher without interfering too much during the class. This can be difficult to achieve in the beginning and needs time and experience to master. Accordingly, the teacher should include different activities in the lesson plan that would not take a long time, because this could be boring for young learners. Also, these activities should not be very repetitive, because that would discourage young students and leads to loss of interest in the process of learning. Thus, the teacher should not be teaching the book word for word, but rather using it as a reference to guide the teaching process.
Also read: 11 Fun ESL Activities for Young Learners
Methods for teaching adult learners
When it comes to teaching adult students the teacher needs to bear in mind that they are usually highly motivated, and are earning the language to achieve a certain goal such as, further progress in education, career, travelling, and so on. On the other hand, adults, compared to young learners, are not fast learners and already have established certain mindsets and values in their lives. This means they can be less accepting to new ideas. Therefore, it is essential for the teacher to identify the exact motivation behind English learning and help the learners achieve this goal in the most efficient way possible. Accordingly, the course planning can be more book oriented in order to achieve this specific goal, which is an advantage for the teacher as it makes lesson planning easier. Since the students are adults, there is more room for discussion, conversation, and debating during the class, but the lesson plan should include some fun activities, because everyone likes games, but learning should not be based on games and fun activities, rather than using these kind of activities to lighten up the energy of the classroom and keep a positive atmosphere.
In conclusion, as a teacher it is very important to be well aware of the age, level, and learning abilities of the students. It is also important to be well aware of the motivation behind students’ reasons for learning English. Thus, plan the courses after taking these factors into consideration in order to do the best job possible as a teacher.
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