#ENGTIPS: LEARNING AT DIFFERENT AGES

A. Young Learners
Many people think that children are better language learners than other age groups. As a result, English is taught to young and very young children in many countries around the world.

a. Children need a lot of good exposure if they are to acquire a language. One or two hours a week is usually not enough for successful acquisition, though it may a) give students a taste of the new language, b) make them feel very positive about languages other than their own and c) be a lot of fun.

b. Children take in information from everything around them, not just what is being taught. They learn from things they see, hear, touch and interact with.

c. Children are usually curious about the world and like learning.

d. Many children are happy to talk about themselves, and like learning experiences which involve and relate to their own lives.

e. Children are pleased to have the teacher’s approval.
Children often find it difficult to concentrate on the same thing for a long time.


Tips for Teaching Young Learners
– Change activities frequently.
– Combine learning and play.
– Use appropriate activities (including songs, puzzles, games, art, physical movement, etc.) for different kinds of student.
– Make the classroom an attractive, light and convenient learning environment.
– Pay special attention to your own English pronunciation – children are good imitators.

B. Adult and Older Learners
How are adult learners different from children?


a. Adults can think in abstract way and so there is, perhaps, less need for them to engage in activities such as games and songs in order to understand things.
b. We can introduce a wide range of topics into adult classrooms and expect that the students will have some knowledge of what we are talking about.
c. Many adult learners have strong opinions about how learning should take place, often based on their own schooldays.
d. Although some adults have good memories of learning success, others have experience of learning failure and are worried that they will fail again.
e. Adults usually (but not always) behave well in class – at least better than some other age groups.

Tips for Teaching Adults
– Find out what interests different student individuals in order to plan the most appropriate lessons.
– Be prepared to explain things (such as grammar rules). But remember that many adults learn by doing things, too.
– Discuss the best ways of learning with your students so that everyone is happy with your lessons.
– Provide clear short-term goals so that the students can achieve success at each stage.

C. Adolescents
For many teachers, adolescents students are the most exciting – but also the most challenging – people to have in classrooms.

a. Depending on their stage of development, teenagers can start to think in abstract terms. In other words, they can talk about ideas and concepts in a way that younger children probably cannot.
b. Many adolescent students become passionate about the things that interest them.
c. Many adolescents are extremely conscious of their age and find it irritating when adults continue to teach them as children – even though, in many ways, they are still children.
d. Many adolescents want and need peer approval (the good opinion of their classmates) far more than they want and need the approval of the teacher.

Tips for Teaching Teenagers

-Encourage teenagers to have opinions and to think critically and questioningly about what they are learning.

-Use the students’ own knowledge and experience as much as possible.

-Treat the students like adults but remember they are still children. Encourage the students to take responsibility for their own learning.

-Be super-organised! Teenagers like to know what they are doing and why.

-Be consistent when there are discipline problems. Criticise the behaviour, not the student.

Reference:
Harmer, Jeremy. 2012. Teacher Knowledge Core Concept in English Language Teaching. England: Pearson Education Limited.

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