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Teacher Adaptation to the Age of Their Students

Teacher Adaptation to the Age of Their Students | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The capacity for learning is present in people of any age and the desire for education and knowledge should be nurtured and celebrated to the best ability of not only the student but the educator as well. Because education is something that people seek out for the duration of their lives, the role and processes of an educator are incredibly diverse and are many times determined by the specific educational situation. One of the biggest determinations of the teaching processes and style arises when one considers the age of her students. Though a teacher may use songs and games when teaching children, her approach to teaching adults would be very different. Young learners acquire information in different ways than adult learners and it is the teacher’s responsibility to adapt to this to provide her students with the best education available.

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

Effective Teaching Ways

While teaching English may initially seem like one could buy a course book and follow the lessons provided to teach a great English class, this is rarely the case. Setting aside the considerations of cultural differences and requirements, an English course is not one-size-fits-all. A classroom of children should be taught very differently than a classroom of adults. Children are oftentimes more energetic than adults; their brains are also still developing so it is easier to channel this energy into learning. It takes specific activities and objectives, however, to direct this spirit into a focus on that which is being taught. A teacher should not teach a class of children using only whiteboard lessons and worksheets. A teacher who is responsible for a classroom full of children should instead focus on immersive games, songs, and other creative projects. Children learn best through play and interactive activities that stimulate their brains while remaining entertaining and holding the focus of the class.

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ESA Method

Both adults and children should be taught English using an ESA (Engage, Study, Activate) method, but a young learner class’s activities would be different from that of an adult class. For example, an appropriate Engage stage for a class of adults would be getting the class thinking and speaking in English by holding a class-wide discussion of a recent news story. This would not be as engaging, appropriate, or helpful to a class of children. Instead, a teacher could start the class with a discussion of favorite weekend activities or popular celebrities (depending on the age of the child). Similarly, during the Study phase, a whiteboard lesson and corresponding worksheet may be the most useful for adult learners while an educational video and picture matching exercise would provide young learners with more relevant and attainable information. Finally, while an activated stage for adult learners might look something like a debate on a current issue, and activate stage for children would look more like writing and performing a sketch or skit for the class.

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Furthermore, adult learners, especially within a subject like English that is often required for children, are sometimes more motivated than children to learn the language. This could be because they need it for a job or travel opportunities, or are just trying to acquire a new skill. In any case, this motivation makes it possible to do less engaging yet ore informational activities in the classroom. Projects, like reading books and writing essays on them, are appropriate for adult learners but may be too difficult or dull for young learners. A teacher’s classroom and teaching style must be directly correlated to her students and age play a big role in the effectiveness of different lessons and techniques.

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