Top Tips for Teaching English to Teens
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If there is one age group that can strike fear into the heart of even the most experienced teacher, it must be teenagers. The teenage years are tricky to navigate for the teens themselves, which can make them challenging to deal with both inside and outside the classroom. Of course, all teachers have their own preference for which age group they like (and don’t like!) to teach, but generally speaking, teenagers have a bit of a bad reputation.
Truthfully, when you imagine a class of teenagers you probably picture a group of eye-rolling, sarcastic, mean young adults whose bark seems equally as bad as their bite. Thankfully, there is more to our teenagers than meets the eye.
While teens are emotional, they are, at the same time, enthusiastic and energetic. They are opinionated and though sometimes shy, they are passionate. They also have the most amazing capacity for learning, if we give them the right tools and the right learning space.
So, let’s look at a few tips and tricks we can use to help us teach teens without losing our marbles.
Keep it real
The first trick is the easiest: be authentic. Teens can spot a rat a mile off and they don’t take kindly to deception or dishonesty. Don’t try to be someone you are not just to try and make friends with your students. Don’t pretend to be the biggest Tay Tay fan if you’re not. Be your authentic self and your teens will get to know you. They will learn to trust you and this will help you create a good rapport with your learners.
Make it relevant
The key to teaching teens is keeping their attention. Teens get distracted very easily. They need to be engaged in your lesson every step of the way or else they will be disruptive or zone out. As a teacher, you need to relate to your students to ensure your lessons are relevant for your learners. The key to this is getting to know your students and understanding what appeals to them and will hold their interest.
Have a laugh
Keep it light-hearted. Teens need to feel comfortable in order to learn (as we all do) and maintaining a relaxed classroom atmosphere helps this. While it may seem like teens have nothing to worry about, this age is actually a stressful time. Don’t underestimate the anxiety your students may be feeling. This is especially apparent when it comes to speaking a language and making mistakes in front of their peers. Help them relax by making a joke every now and again, but remember that there’s a fine line between being genuinely funny and trying too hard.
Adolescence is a very selfish time. Teens are naturally very self-centred, which means their thoughts and actions relate directly to themselves. Take the time to get to know your students, their likes and interests – even if you do this through a very informal chat with them at the beginning of your lessons. This will help you plan lessons that are appropriate, relevant and, most important of all, interesting to your learners. You never know, you might find out that you have more in common with your teens than you thought!
Mix it up
When planning your lessons, make sure your lessons are not same-y. Be sure to use a range of different activities in your lessons so that your learners stay interested. While there is nothing wrong with a routine, with teens it’s a better idea to do the unexpected and keep them guessing. This way they won’t know what to expect from your lessons and will look forward to finding out what you have in store for them.
There’s no doubt that wherever you are your teens are likely to be very tech-savvy. There are many different ways you can utilise technology to maximise learning opportunities and your teens will enjoy bringing this knowledge into the classroom. Videos, apps, websites, WebQuests – the possibilities are endless!
The teenage years are a great time for learning. Teens should be pushed out of their comfort zone and challenged in order to optimise learning. The more cognitive effort they put into learning, the deeper their understanding will be, and the greater their learning. Plan lessons that are not too easy and with just the right amount of challenge. Have extra ideas in mind in case you misjudge the level of the lesson in relation to your students.
Create a safe space
At the same time, it is up to you to create an environment in which your students feel comfortable enough to make mistakes. We learn by making mistakes, especially when it comes to language. So we need to make sure our students won’t feel embarrassed when they make mistakes. If they do, they won’t be as willing to participate in the lessons. It is up to you to create a safe space in which there is no fear of criticism or embarrassment when speaking up in class.
Read more: Encouraging Mistakes in the TEFL Classroom
Let them talk
Teens love to chat, even when they’re in the classroom. This can lead to some of your learners being quite disruptive during your lessons. One way to avoid this is to give them plenty of opportunities to talk during your lesson. Be sure to include lots of pairwork and group work activities, and activities which include talking, debate and discussions. If you structure your lesson well, your students won’t have the opportunity for idle chitchat but will speak in order to accomplish the aims of your lesson.
Whatever you do, don’t be condescending. They might not be adults yet, but they’re certainly not children anymore. Treat your teen learners with respect and they will respect you back. On a practical level, this means including them in decision-making and listening to their opinions.
Don’t let the thought of teaching teens freak you out. Teaching teen learners might not be your idea of a good time, but once you have established a relationship with them you will open a door to the most magical lessons you never expected.
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- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by Everything TEFL Ltd but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.