Teaching teens can be a real challenge especially if you think about their mood swings, sulks or eye rolls. But it is also very refreshing, motivating, rewarding and simply a lot of fun. So what can you do to enjoy the lessons with teenagers and teach them something at the same time?
Let them be creative
Give them opportunities to think outside the box. Even if it seems impossible at the beginning. Believe me, they may surprise you with their amazing and unconventional ideas.
Respect their boundaries
If they don’t feel like talking on a particular topic, it’s OK. Maybe it just isn’t the most fascinating subject for them. Or it’s too personal. Or they don’t want to open up in front of the whole group, or you yet. Or they may just have a bad day.
Challenge their opinions
Teenagers love expressing their opinions and fighting for what they believe is right. So go ahead and ask them some controversial questions, make daring statements yourself. But never ever impose your own point of view on them. They have a right to disagree with you, to be wrong, or simply to perceive the world in their own way.
Listen to them carefully
Talk to them on any subject they are eager and ready to discuss. Treat them with respect even though they behave childishly sometimes. Listen to what they say, observe their body language and read between the lines. Refer to what you learnt about them during the previous lessons. They will realise they are important to you.
Care about relationships
Do your students have mood swings and roll their eyes? So what? You also have bad days sometimes, right? Well, you know how to control yourself, or at least in a vast majority of cases you do. But they are teens so they’re still learning how to do it. So give it up sometimes. They would appreciate it for sure.
Appreciate their efforts
Celebrate every single success they make. After all what is a piece of cake for some of your students, can be a real challenge for others. That is why it’s important to appreciate their efforts and little achievements to the best of their abilities.
Let them choose
Teenagers like to know that something is up to them, that they can have an impact. So let them choose the kind of homework they are supposed to do, a topic you are going to discuss in class, what the quiz should look like, and so on. If they choose, they have stronger motivation to do something and are more enthusiastic when doing it.
Say no to boredom
Teenagers can forgive you a lot. Even if you didn’t have time to check their tests or made a mistake. Or if you were wrong, or didn’t keep your promise because something came up. It’s ok. Things happen. However, there is one thing teens will never forgive you – boredom. So if you are planning to spend the whole lesson doing boring grammar exercises from the book with them, one after the other, for 45 minutes – they’re gonna hate you. You will definitely kill their enthusiasm and joy of learning. So don’t do it!!!
Tweak the tasks
If an exercise is boring to you, your teens are bound to think alike. So don’t torture them, tweak the tasks a little bit, adjust them to your students’ interests, or simply skip them. You are not the slave of the student’s books or handouts.
Is it easy to teach teens? Definitely not. But it is the best, the most rewarding and fascinating adventure you may imagine as a teacher. You accompany teens on their journey where they not only acquire the language but also learn about the world and themselves.
Notes about the author
This article was written by Kinga Zieja, an English teacher, owner of a language school and a blogger. If you liked this article, check out Kinga’s blog here: http://dealwithkinga.pl/blog_teacher/ She writes for teachers and students! And she writes really well!
If you’re looking for ready-to-use resource for teens, check out our Convo Pack: Teens series.