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Teach English in Mingzuling Zhen - Huai'an Shi
As EFL teachers, we will have the opportunity to teach students of all ages. However, is there any difference between teaching different age groups? Does it mean we will need to change the entire lesson planning depending on the group we will be teaching? In this article, we will divide the students into two general groups: Young learners and adult learners. Let us start with young learners. Although this group can be divided also into more categories, they are generally students aged between 7 to 13 years old. These students are mostly characterized with hyper activity, easy distraction and openly accepting new knowledge. For that, our duty as teachers in the classroom would cover more the role of order maintaining and also entertaining. It might sound contradictory; however, we will keep harmony in the classroom. • Motivation: We need to understand first that young learners didn’t choose to learn the language. This means they are lacking motivation for learning. This is where our role as entertainers appears. We will have to attract their attention and mesmerize them to focus with us; by using proper materials and teaching aid. We can use songs that could be appropriate to their age with catchy rhythms; more activities that will help them express their thoughts in English and let out their energy • Order: Unfortunately, with this much activities and loud atmosphere, there will be some chaos happening. That’s where our role as order keepers appears the most. We will need to maintain a peaceful ambience in class without breaking the flow of the learning process. Here, we will need to use some non-verbal gestures that would express our disagreement of some behaviors in class as a first step. This helps the students to know some limits in the class. Also, we should make group work, pairs sometimes; some worksheets wouldn’t hurt in these cases. Although young learners might be troublesome, they have the ability to learn the language quickly. They also are less self-conscious and accept correcting openly. This leads to some satisfying results in the end. Next, we get to our second group, adult learners. This category is generally aged over 13 years old. This can be from teenagers to retirees. They are less active, but provide more creative materials to use in the class. Most of these students chose to be in the class, which leads to less distraction. With this group, our duties as teachers will focus more on a psychological level. We will be more of counselors, advisers, mentors. • Motivation: Adult learners have more focus. Unluckily that focus doesn’t show immediately in the classroom. We need to remember that most of these students have been either at school or at work all day before attending the class. This means that fatigue already rules the classroom at first. This is when we show some support to make them forget their daily stress and enjoy more the class. This can go easily by asking about their day or some interesting news for example. This will lead the students to think in English and speak freely. As if we are refreshing their minds to perform and understand better the lesson. • Stress: We need to choose carefully the activities and examples while planning lessons for adult learners. We need to choose some ways that would make the students feel secure rather than embarrassed and stressed. For example, asking adults to sing in class would be a terrible shut off for them. We should use the advantage the experiences they all bring to the class; plenty of subjects, opinions, ideas to use as materials. Also, we should eliminate the idea of giving homework to adult learners. These students have already plenty of stress to handle in their lives. Giving extra work to do will only lead them to lose motivation of studying. We need to take advantage of the focus our students provide and maximize our activities in class. We can give some homework for either special or optional cases, for example by providing some last preparations for final exams, or some personalized tasks depending on the problems some students might be facing in the classroom. Adult learners have some objectives in mind that motivate them to study and excel. This helps us provide specific learning material that can help all the students differently. In conclusion, the content of the lesson might be the same. However, our attitude in the classroom and the use of activities depend not only on the group age, but also the students themselves. They are individuals after all and each has a unique thing to bring to class.