Teach English in Banqiaoxincheng - Nanjing Shi

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Learning English is nowadays considered part of an integral education across age groups. The benefits of communicating in this language are numerous: access to superior education, specialized literature, better job opportunities, new travelling destinations, etc. Learning English seems to be easier everyday with the increasing access to technology and learning resources. Thus, a determination to start an English course may arise at any point in a person’s life. However, attention span, motivation and learning speed vary with age, and each age group faces particular challenges. In response, English teachers should consider these aspects when preparing their teaching strategy for a specific age group. One of the differences between young learners and adults is attention span. Young students have short attentions spans, and react better to visual content. Adults can hold attention for longer periods and are less dependent on visual aids. However, adult beginners certainly benefit from visual aids. Regardless of the age group, it is important to prepare dynamic classes, varied activities and opportunities to increase students’ talking time. Another difference relates to motivation for studying English as a foreign language. Adults are usually highly motivated to learn because they have specific goals in mind, and most of the times they have decided to start the course. In contrast, young students are less likely to have taken that decision alone and may show poor interest in the class. Whenever necessary, teachers can relate the class content with the personal interests of students, in order to increase their interest in the lesson. Finally, learning speed is another contrasting feature among age groups. Young learners assimilate new language and develop communicative skills rapidly because their language skills are also developing. Adults have already completed that phase, and have many responsibilities in mind. Besides, they normally study after working hours, which can reduce their concentration. Therefore, these two groups require different approaches for teaching. When the learning speed is low, students find it difficult to recognize their own progress in the language and may lose motivation. In this case, teachers should give encouragement by pointing out the learning objectives that students have already achieved. On the other hand, students who learn quickly and finish classroom activities in record time can represent a distraction for other students. Keeping at hand some extra activities will keep them busy throughout the class. This implies some extra effort during lesson preparation (especially for large groups) but will help in maintaining discipline throughout the lesson. Both with young learners and adults, motivation assessment forms are important tools to apply at the beginning of the course. Teachers can use these forms to learn about the interests and aims of each student. In cases of low motivation, teachers can use the assessment forms to help students remember their goals. Empathy with students and constant motivation will help build the confidence that all learners need. Moreover, students should always find in class a safe space to explore with the language, without fear to failure. When there are large differences in learning speed, adults who struggle more may feel embarrassed in front of younger and stronger students. Although exceptions can always occur, I think it is not advisable to mix adults and young learners in a single lesson, even if they are in the same language level.