TEACHING MILLENNIALS

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A millennial (n): a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000

If you are already a qualified and experienced TFEL teacher, you may have already encountered them in your classroom. In fact, you may even be one yourself! But regardless of your age (and whether you yourself are one or not) there are some special techniques you should have on hand when teaching the millennials of today, because learners of this age group are very different from any set of learners that came before them, purely because of the time they were born.

They don’t remember landline telephones

Probably the most defining aspect of millennials is that they were born into a world of technology. They have never known a world without the internet and they have probably had their own cell phone since they could talk. Coming of age during a time of intense technological development has meant that these learners take technology for granted, more likely to google something than look it up in a book. Texting and instant messaging are natural to them and writing with a pen probably seems like a waste of time.

With this familiarity with technology comes with it the expectation of it. These learners expect to use technology in the classroom and may become distracted without it. They respond well to multimedia and interactive lesson designs because they are accustomed to being actively involved in learning. The trick for us, as teachers, is not to learn how to use YouTube, but understand how to use technology effectively.

They are entrepenuerial

Millenials grew up at the time when Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were taking the world by storm. They look up to Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and probably hope to forge similar paths in their future. What this means is that these learners don’t consider work and employment the same way their parents did. They are more likely to be creative and adventurous in their life decisions and are willing to take risks and fail.

In the classroom, we need to harness this creativity and independent-mindedness by thinking of lessons and tasks which allow for creativity and encourage free thinking. Allow your learners to voice their opinions, challenge the norm and tackle problems from a different angle. Tasks which encourage collaboration will also work well in the classroom.

They don’t know who Roxette is

Depending on your age, there may be a generation gap (or at least a few years) between you and your millennial students. Bear this in mind when dealing with topics of popular culture. Millennial culture is all about Snapchat, hashtags and selfies, and it can be difficult to connect with your learners if you are not familiar with their culture.

We’re not saying you need to be up-to-date with everything that’s new and contemporary, but you should be careful when dealing with such topics. Don’t assume your learners will be familiar with the same icons and celebrities that you are.

There is no need to be overwhelmed when it comes to teaching millennials. Though it may seem like you are teaching a different species, as long as you realise your teaching methods may need to change a little, you’ll soon appreciate millennials for the breath of fresh air that they are.

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