Teach English in Chenyang Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Among the wide range of English learners, young (child) learners are said to be the most rewarding experience. They have sometimes been called ‘information sponges’, quickly absorbing all kinds of new information and repeating them in their daily language. On the other hand, adult learners may already have an established speech structure based on their native language, presenting complications. However, they are generally quite motivated and will almost have no behavioral problems in the classroom. English learners can be divided according to age into young and adult learners. This essay will elaborate on the differences in the behavior of the students and how a teacher must behave in the classroom depending on the group. Young learners refer to children learners who are still receiving their primary education. This group of students has a distinct characteristic, an innate sense of curiosity. All kinds of new information are easily and readily absorbed, making the teaching experience for this group very rewarding. Young learners generally do not yet have a grasp on the established rules of their own native language; this allows them to effortlessly learn a new language (English). For example, it is easier to teach children how to produce a North American ‘th’ sound than it is to teach an adult. However, young learners tend to lack attention spans and there is a possibility of behavioral problems that might occur during the lesson. Using flashcards and role-playing in groups is much more engaging to them than using worksheets. Adult learners include the older group of students who are usually already working and have a well-established native language that they are familiar with. This group tends to be quite motivated as the case is usually that they have themselves made the choice to learn English. Many adult learners choose to study English for work purposes or with the goal of building a future abroad. This is evident in the number of immigrants in various countries putting in effort into their English language abilities. Behavioral problems of the students are non-existent and they have better focus than children. On the downside, it is quite a challenge to teach this group the right pronunciation of certain sounds in English (the North American ‘th’ and ‘r’ sound) and to teach them a whole new grammatical structure is not an easy task. While both groups of young and adult learners generally have high motivation, there are other notable differences that can change the dynamics of the classroom. An English teacher will have to modify their behavior appropriately in these different settings. Young learners require high levels of interactivity in their lessons or else the lesson might seem boring, making them lose their focus. An English teacher can incorporate dynamic activities so that the kids can engage with the contents of the lesson without feeling like they’re actually ‘studying’. Physical gestures are useful in holding the students’ attention and educational videos can help the teacher get their content across without too much physical effort. Children learn easily through repetition. English teachers must be patient and include consistent repetition and drilling in their classes. The constant use of simple language and short sentences will expand the students’ English ability in the long term. Exaggeration of body gestures, speech, and praise also goes a long way in motivating the students over time. On the other hand, adult learners might feel that the teacher is showing condescending behavior towards them if the teacher were to exaggerate their body gestures and speech. Instead, English teachers may find it easier to establish rapport with their older students as the teacher and the students are part of the working population. When one works, it can be hard to find the time and energy to devote to learning English. Working a 9 to 5 job only to sit in a class and learn a new language after that can be exhausting. Therefore, many adult learners tend to be tired or too busy to study English. English teachers must try their best to have a flexible time schedule to suit the needs of their students. Apart from time flexibility, course flexibility is necessary too. Adult learners include a wide range of age groups and not all age groups are going to be of the same English level. Teachers must devise a level test in order to get a grasp of their students’ English ability and divide them accordingly. In conclusion, students of English can refer to many different types of students. An easy categorization is young and adult learners. Despite some similarities, the type of behavior expected from a group of young learners and from adult learners are different in many ways. An English teacher must keep these group characteristics in mind and be prepared to be versatile in their teaching method depending on which group of students is in front of them.