Teaching English abroad can offer an array of age groups to choose from, depending on your destination. Choosing the right age group largely depends on individual preferences as every teacher has their unique teaching style. Some teachers might opt to work with younger kids, attracted by the high energy level and fun-oriented environment that typically characterizes this group. Conversely, others might gravitate towards adult learners who usually prefer a calmer, more scholarly environment.
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In English teaching, the student demographic can span from toddlers as young as 18 months to senior citizens, generally grouped into three main categories:
- Kindergarten (under 5 years)
- Young Learners (6 to 16)
- Adults (17 and over)
Teaching English to kindergarteners can be an exceptional experience, blending teaching, caregiving, and some aspects of parenting. The focus here is on delivering English instruction in an enjoyable way, emphasizing basic reading and writing, promoting motor skills through activities, and instilling social skills like sharing and empathy. The teacher must exhibit immense patience, an understanding of the language proficiency of each child, and the ability to use non-verbal cues and teaching aids effectively.
- Classes for this age group often last only half a day, leading to a lesser workload than other teaching environments.
- There is no requirement to organize tests for this age group.
- Inclusion of nap time and snack breaks ease the workload and create a relaxed ambiance.
- In this environment the teacher needs to be engaging and very patient.
- You will be required to sing songs and behave in an animated way.
- Some kindergartens can be little more than a babysitting service.
The term 'young learners' in the TEFL field generally refers to students aged between 6 and 18, although this group is often further divided into 6 to 12-year-olds and 13 to 16-year-olds. Younger children within this bracket are better at understanding concrete topics than abstract ones, so lesson plans must be adapted accordingly. Keeping young learners motivated can be challenging since they typically learn English out of obligation rather than choice, making engaging activities a vital part of instruction.
- Students tend to be more open to sharing ideas.
- Classes are often lively and fun, providing an enjoyable atmosphere for both the teacher and the students.
- The teacher and the students can often develop a strong bond.
- Lesson planning for this age group can be time-consuming.
- Schools usually expect midterm and end-of-term examinations.
- A full day teaching young learners can be physically exhausting.
Adult learners can range from high school seniors to university students and working professionals. In these classes, students generally show seriousness towards language acquisition and focus on lesson goals. The need for reward systems, incentives, or games decreases. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that their proficiency in English may not necessarily surpass that of younger learners. Teachers of adult learners typically need a deeper comprehension of the English language.
- Teaching positions in universities and similar settings often come with good remuneration and ample vacation time.
- While planning lessons for adults can be time-consuming, teaching this age group is usually less exhausting.
- Adult education institutions generally offer a stable and pleasant work environment.
- Classes can often be lengthy, with two-hour sessions considered standard.
- Teachers must have a robust understanding of English grammar to instruct advanced concepts.
- The regular preparation and grading of assessments and homework can be monotonous.
Ultimately, the "best" age group for teaching English depends on your personal preference. Jobs involving young learners are abundant and easily available. However, they require high energy and a plethora of games and activities for engagement. Teaching kindergarteners appeals to some due to the potentially lower demands in terms of preparation and energy levels, but it has its unique challenges. Adult learners attract many teachers due to the lesser need for games and animated behavior, but the qualifications and language proficiency requirements for these roles tend to be higher. The crucial aspect is to find the age group that best aligns with your teaching style and comfort level.