Teaching teenagers is a daunting challenge for most teachers. Because teenagers have a greater learning potential than that of young children but they are considerably more difficult to motivate and manage. It also takes longer to build up a trusting relationship with a teenager but once a teacher finds the correct balance of respect and authority, teaching teenagers can be a rewarding and fun-filled experience.
Teenagers go through a developmental stage which can be difficult between the ages of 13 and 19 and, even though they would not admit it, authority and stability in the classroom is often re-assuring for them. They have a highly developed sense of what is right and what is not and the general expectation amongst teenagers is that they are treated with respect and fairness by their teacher even though they are unsure of their own personal value with regards to their capacity and intelligence
Most teenagers prefer their teachers to value and respect them rather than to be their friends. The general opinion is that academic closeness is acceptable between teachers and teenagers but not friendship closeness which is regarded with suspicion and derision. Between the ages of 13 and 19, teenagers try out different identities and like their teachers to identify them as individuals with their own ideas.
They also appreciate participating in decisions on what happens in the classroom so that they feel some ownership of and commitment to the learning program but may regard a teacher as unprofessional if he doesn't take responsibility for decisions about learning and assessment but simply hands it over to the class. Striking a balance between teen participation in decision-making and total teen control is important.
The main task for teachers is how to make teaching process to make them interest in subjects. What kind of effective methods can be used during class?First of all we must learn their thought, interest and feelings. Teenagers look for meaning and significance in relation to their own lives in what they are taught. A clever teacher will capitalize on this and personalize their lessons with regards to what is going on in the lives of their students at the moment. They want to know about now and not what happened a hundred years ago in some remote part of the world. Unfortunately, it may take a lot of effort on the part of the teacher but keeping up to date with technology and the events that may interest teenagers is vital to getting and holding their attention.
As a rule, most teenagers are quite self-centered. They love to talk about themselves, what they think, what they don't like and are quite emotional. A creative teacher may organize activities like sharing journal entries or writing newspaper articles for a newspaper students have created themselves. This allows students to express themselves freely and talk endlessly about a topic they are interested in: their own ideas.
Prior to learning teenagers need to know why they are doing something, how it can help them and how it relates to their lives. Everyone prefers interesting lessons but it is impossible to make all lessons fun as some subject matter is just boring by nature. Teenagers are aware of this and even though they are generally in favor of fun they realize that good learning takes an effort. All lessons can be made relevant even if the subject itself is not the most inspiring in the curriculum.
Teenagers crave authenticity and «real» people. A teacher pretending to be someone else who he feels may impress teenagers will be spotted in a second and lose the respect of his class even quicker.
Six Resources a Teacher Should Use When Teaching Teenagers
Resources are the teacher's magic wand. They help put teaching methods into use through appropriate and adapted activities. Here are some particularly useful resources when teaching teenagers:
Music: teenagers love and relate to music. It is a way for them to express themselves and learn at the same time.
Group work: teenagers are social animals and even though they may be quite self-conscious, they crave relationships and peer interaction.
Role-playing and acting: this is a great way for teenagers to let themselves go and express themselves freely. Role-playing allows them to vent their feelings in a safe way as it can be perceived as just a «role» that a student is playing and not their true selves.
Class knowledge: teenagers know a lot about various topics and a teacher should tap into their interests and passions for class content.
A quick pace: teenagers don't have a long attention span for a single topic unless various short activities are used with a quick pace.
Games: teenagers are competitive in that they like to show off and win in groups
The World Wide Web offers ESL teachers and students hundreds of tests and quizzes. Many of them are of good quality and user-friendly but after a while teachers usually start to create their own quizzes because the ones they find on the Internet do not satisfy their needs.
As we know Internet source is a great assistant for not only teachers but for every specialist. By Internet we can get any kind of information of any field. And also we can use Internet for teaching. It means that the role of Information Technology in teaching process is important as well. By the help of computer aids lessons can be much interesting by using effective methods. There are many opportunities computer-based training. So Computer-based training is much effective to interest teenagers.
The advantages of computer-based teacher-created materials:
- The advantages of using computer-based teacher-created materials are numerous:
- Interactive exercises increase motivation when the material is directly linked to the course and/or interests of your students.
- The exercises are game-like and fun.
- The students can work through the exercise taking as much time as they need and learning as they go.
- They receive immediate, frequent and non-judgmental feedback.
If you feel you'd like to have a try and make exercises for your students but you don't know how to start, you will find some information in this article.
Today teachers can use a lot of methods in teaching process. By using new pedagogical methods teachers can create very good atmosphere. Some methods can be interesting and some of them effective. They are very important in motivating and in interesting teenagers. Here are some methods as example:
The tool for creating interactive quizzes I like best is the Hot Potatoes suite, created by Stewart Arneil and Martin Holmes at the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre. Use of the suite is free as long as you do not make money with it and you are prepared to share your exercises by placing them on a publicly accessible Web server. You need to register in order to be able to use the full version of the programs (the registration is free). The applications are logical and easy to use and the output (the web page with the exercises) is really impressive.
The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications which teachers can use to create many variations of interactive quizzes such as:
- Short-answer quizzes (JQuiz) where the students answer questions by typing their answers.
- Crosswords (JCross) where you can use definitions, translation or even pictures as clues.
- Gap-filling exercises (JCloze) with or without a word list.
- Matching exercises (JMatch) which you can use for putting lists in order and matching words, words and their definitions, words and pictures, questions and answers, halves of sentences, etc.
It is possible to include a reading text in all of the Hot Potatoes quizzes. What's more, the text can be set to disappear after a pre-specified amount of time in order to add a timed component to the exercise, although students may click a button to see the text again. You can also add sound (create listening exercises), pictures and video files. Two of the tools, JMatch and JMix, can also produce drag-and-drop exercises.
Hot Potatoes also has great potential for self-access use. The teenager-students can learn on their own and still benefit from the interactivity the quizzes provide.
Prepare a set of cards so that there is one for each student. On each card write one word from a set of vocabulary items you’d like to reinforce with the class (e.g. kitchen words: fridge, mixer, sink, saucepan, cooker, microwave). If you want groups of six students, there should be sets with six different words, and so on. Shuffle and distribute the cards, then ask students to meet up in groups where everyone has a different word.
Hello. Who is there?
Hand out a small piece of paper to each student. Ask each student to write down their mobile phone number on the paper then collect in the pieces and shuffle them. Students then pick out a piece of paper at random and ring the number to find out who their new partner is. (Students without mobile phones should write “chat room” and gather in a designated corner of the room). This technique would be especially suitable for telephone practice pair work activities that can then actually be done over the phone.
Video is a valuable and possibly underused classroom tool. There is always the temptation to simply put a video on at the end of the term and let our students watch a film without even challenging them to be actively involved.
Video as a listening tool can enhance the listening experience for our students. We very rarely hear a disembodied voice in real life but as teachers we constantly ask our students to work with recorded conversations of people they never see. This is often necessary in the limited confines of the language school and sometimes justifiable, for example, when we give students telephone practice. However, we can add a completely new dimension to aural practice in the classroom by using video. The setting, action, emotions, gestures, etc, that our students can observe in a video clip, provide an important visual stimulus for language production and practice.
In some listening exercises we must concentrate on specific dialogue to enable our students to learn. It is necessary to challenge them to listen when dealing with features of pronunciation. I find movies provide a good source of authentic listening material for the practice of pronunciation and I use them accordingly.
To sum up, not quite-yet-adults and not-still-children is a difficult thing to be. Interests vary, emotions run high and frustrations deep however the average teenager is an inquisitive, charming contrast of innocence and worldliness and has a thirst for knowledge that is endless. A teacher who understands the characteristics of a teenage learner, effective teaching methods and the resources to put those methods into practice is a teacher who will motivate and challenge a teenage class to learn with interest.
1. Puchta, Herbert. Teaching Teenagers: Model Activity Sequences for Humanistic Language Learning, United Kingdom, Longman, 1993.