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Types of Learning Process: Young Students vs. Adults

Types of Learning Process: Young Students vs. Adults | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Teaching is an opportunity that all of us can learn and benefit from. Teaching expands across all nationalities, genders, religious, racial and age groups. Education among different age groups has is similarities and differences that have evolved throughout civilization. Throughout my time teaching, there are several pros versus cons when it comes to teaching children and adults. Both are an absolute joy to teach in my opinion, however, some strategies must be implemented that both can benefit from.

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

What do they have in common?

Some of the similarities that teaching children versus adults have are that from my experience, the majority of both groups are usually eager to learn English and eventually become fluent. Both children and adults are usually relatively easy to engage with depending not only on their age but also on their personalities, level of English speaking ability, personal goals and a topic we as teachers choose to engage them with. So teaching is a bit more convoluted just only considering age groups but also other factors are involved that can benefit those who want to learn English. Some topics, I like to engage both young learners and adults is simply just asking them, what's their name, where are they from, what do you like to do during your free time with a smile on my face. I try to adjust my speaking speed depending on the student English level along with eye contact to demonstrate that I care about their opinions and feelings. I follow-up with additional questions depending on my student’s answers and may even share a bit about myself to build a rapport with them. These very simple but effective ways of communication as allowed me to be very successful in breaking the ice with students that make them more comfortable in the classroom and gives them more motivation to express themselves more in English.

adult student self-studying

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Influence on the lessons

Teaching with different age groups does have its differences that must be addressed to execute an effective lesson. In most cases, I find that I must use a lot more energy when it comes to teaching young learners depending on the age group that varies vastly from kindergarten to high school. Even among a seven-year-old child to a seventeen-year-old child, for example, both are considered young adults in most of the world's society but with such an age difference teaching strategies must be varied to meet each child's needs. Generally speaking besides young learners' high amounts of energy, some of the younger kids always want to show what things they have sometimes they can also be very energetic to the point they temporarily lose focus in the class. Young learners usually tend to ask more questions about words, phrases or context they don't understand or want further clarification. Lastly, teaching classes consisting of mainly young learn has to be fun and entertaining for several reasons. It could for a plethora of reason that ranges from being bored with the lesson or lack of interest in the topic discussed. Regardless of the reason, it's necessary that the class has to be somewhat entertaining and the instructions of the material must be clear for students to benefit immensely. I've found, that younger learns are interested in innovative technology. I like to make PowerPoint slides including videos, short questions, discussion and maintain a high energy level to meet the needs of my students.

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Teaching English among adults is usually a lot more relaxed than with younger learners. Adults are usually more patient, focused, attentive and some adults ask rather marvelous questions that I might have to research before answering. Some adults will challenge the teacher's knowledge and abilities at times during class and that's ok. Ultimately from my perspective, these experiences will make me a better teacher and even a better person. Many adult English learners from my personal experience are learning English because their job requires them to do so. These adults feel an obligation to learn English fluently because their family’s wellbeing depends on their English progress. So usually these kinds of students are highly motivated. Other adult learners are learning English because some of them started learning English when they were in school and stopped for some reason and feel a commitment to themselves to start learning English again. I also find that these students are profoundly committed to learning English. Other common reasons that adult English learners are learning English because they like to travel and they feel that English is a universal language spoken worldwide. So if they can speak English fluently, they can effectively communicate with foreigners all around the world including immigration and customs.

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The reasons for adult learners learning English vary depending on each adult’s circumstances and goals so I find that once I am to learn about each student's interest in learning, then teaching them is far easier. In conclusion, both young English learners and adults both have their trials and tribulations when it comes to teaching English, however, they are many treasures in teaching that can be achieved as educators to influence the world that our students can find that jewel within themselves to realize their hopes, dreams, and ambitions.

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