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5 Tips for Teaching English to Teenagers

5 Tips for Teaching English to Teenagers

It’s a common myth that teaching teenagers is difficult. Stereotypically, they are reluctant to learn and disruptive. This doesn’t have to be the truth, though – with the right teacher, teenagers are often receptive and have a real desire to learn. The trick is to aim your teaching at teenagers – knowing what helps them learn best and bring out the best in them as students. Luckily, we have compiled a list of tips for teaching English to teenagers. 


Build a relationship with your students


Arguably more important than any other learning age, it is essential you build relationships with your teenage students. If a teenager respects you as teacher, they are likely to want to work harder. The way you build these relationships will depend on the students in your class. However, almost all students will respond well to a teacher they feel is interested in their life. 


Ask your students about their weekends. Ask them about their hobbies. If they mention something you don’t know that well – like the newest series of Lupin – it can’t hurt to go away and do a bit of research, so you’ve got something to talk about in the next class, showing that you care. 


Work to their interests


In a similar vein, using topics of interest when teaching can engage teenage learners more. If you are learning about English words for food items, and you have a student who enjoys baking, use this to teach them. Teach them the vocabulary in the context of baking. 


Similarly, encouraging your students to watch their favourite TV shows in the English language can help them build their grammar and vocabulary quicker, whilst being a fun pastime for them. 


Use relevant topics


When teenagers learn a new language, they often want to feel like they are learning for a reason. Spending lots of time on irrelevant topics won’t inspire them. Instead, teaching them English in terms of relevant issues to their lives – for example, vocab for politics or popular culture – will make them pay attention and feel like their work is worthwhile. 


Work choice into their learning


Obviously, your students can’t pick and choose what they want to learn every lesson. But working choice into their learning can make teenagers more proactive students. For example, if you set a writing task, give your students a few suitable options to choose from. This gives teenagers ownership over their work. 


Have staggered difficulty in classes


Students will all work at different difficulty levels – especially when they are teenagers. When you offer a class of teenagers all the same task, some will find it tricky, while others will be bored because of how easy it is. When teenagers find something too difficult, they are likely to give up. At the same time, those who find it too easy will be bored and stop putting effort in. Therefore, it’s key to differentiate your teaching so everyone in the class can learn to their best ability.