Teach English in ZhAngdian Zhen - Lianyungang Shi

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Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) is an amazing program that appeals to people of all ages and all walks of life. Whether they want to gain a new educational skill, improve their professionalism for business, learn English for travel and tourism or are being required to learn for school, people all come to the classroom with different reasons and motivations. The age of a person usually plays into this reason and must be taken into account when preparing to teach. In this essay, we will look at the differences between teaching Adults and teaching Young Learners. In 2017 my wife and I lived in Italy for three months in order to teach English. We lived in a small town with around a thousand residents. While we were there we taught three adult classes and one children’s class. I will use this time and experience as a template for showcasing the differences in how to teach students of varying ages. My wife and I lead classes for adults in three different towns. The town in which we were staying and then two others close by. The adults who attended ranged from those in their early twenties to those in their fifties and older. Each class was run using the same curriculum, made by my wife, and was held in the evenings during the week. For the adult classes, we focused on grammar and pronunciation. Working with them on how to speak clearly and develop their vocabulary. Given that there was a variety of English speaking levels we would often work with them in a group and do pair work in order to maximize the time spent in the classroom. It went very well and all the adults gave great feedback from their time spent. In one of the towns, we also held a children’s class on Saturday mornings. For these class times, we focused more on a theme, such as animals or food, and would usually focus on teaching them vocabulary through games and activities. These classes, although much simpler, took just as much time and effort to prepare. It was interesting being able to teach both groups. There were some very distinct differences in how we taught them. With the adults, we were able to use deeper themes and pull more from their interests and life experiences for class context, while with the children we usually provided a simpler, more general context and would elicit a lot of vocab from them to use in the lesson. With the children, we would center their learning around songs, activities, and simple worksheets, while with the adults we would use group activities, pair work, and grammar worksheets. The Adults would usually be much more motivated in wanting to learn specific things, the young children however usually focused on wanting to have fun while learning. One of the biggest difficulties with the adult learners was figuring out how to best serve such a range in the levels of English knowledge. All wanted to learn but everyone had a different level of English and so it was important to figure out how to best teach the whole group without favoring one person over the other. In the children’s class, the largest hurdle was their attention span. We would vary our activities often in order to keep them focused and on track with the lesson. Both of these situations called for careful planning and then revising as we observed our class. Throughout the whole process I learned a lot about how to plan your class but then adjust based on the needs the students have. As I went through this course I often thought back to the things I learned from those two groups. Both need good teaching and commitment but both had different specific needs to be met. I’m very grateful for this certificate program for helping me reflect back on those times and prepare me for the future situations I will find myself in.