Working with teenagers is definitely rewarding and fun!
But when it comes to conversations, things may be a little different. For example, like this: we enter a classroom, ask a question and virtually age 5 years waiting for an answer 😉 that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you know what we mean! Sometimes it really is hard work to keep your teens talking!
First and foremost, we would like to say that when teaching teenagers, it would be ideal to only talk about topics that interest them. But we know that when teaching teenagers, you have to take into account topics that are in their language curriculum, and not necessarily too interesting. Especially if it is an exam preparation course.
A boring topic can be made more interesting simply by asking the right questions. Easier said than done? Read on!
How to create interesting questions? It’s best to ask your students what they associate with the topic. What comes to their mind when they think about it? Let them brainstorm a few ideas and then, choose the most unobvious phrases they came up with and use them to make some questions for discussion. Job done! And if you still have doubts, ask your students to create questions for each other.
Variety of exercises
If you work with a coursebook, predictability is one of the biggest problems for you. Usually, activities in each unit are very similar, which certainly doesn’t help to keep students interested. So try to vary the exercises a little bit. Sometimes even a short warm-up or a small filler is enough. Get a collection of warmers and fillers designed especially for teenagers here.
Pictures that make them think
There are many websites where you can download beautiful photos, for example: Pixabay, Unsplash, Pexels. Just remember that what you find interesting may not necessarily be interesting for your students. When choosing photos for teenagers, it’s best to stick to this rule: the stranger, the better.
Introduce a bit of competition into your classes. Sometimes it is enough to add a time limit to a simple discussion. The easiest way: if you want your students to keep the discussion going for as long as possible, divide them into pairs, write a topic for discussion or a question. Students talk in pairs for as long as they can (in English!) The longest discussion wins.
You can also always use ready-made board games that develop your speaking skills, such as Convo Board Game, which is part of every Convo Pack: Teens in our shop.
Most students (we don’t know why…) don’t like grammar. And with teenagers, this feeling intensifies! Whenever possible, try to avoid the following sentences: “Today we are going to practise Past Simple.” It’s much better to say, “Today you will have the opportunity to tell me about what fun things you did with your friends over the weekend.” It is so much nicer to sit at the table, thinking about the weekend rather than wondering why I need some Past Simple.
As much as possible, do not directly say that you want to revise a particular grammar structure. Just ask students to talk about their plans for next weekend (future tenses) or think about what would happen if schools didn’t exist (conditionals). And the correct structures will come to their mind, guaranteed!
A bit of controversy
And we save the best for last! Who doesn’t like controversy? Teenagers love it for sure. Because when, if not during an English lesson, can they discuss whether a teacher is really necessary….?
Read more about teaching teens in this article.
If you need more ideas or ready-made materials for teaching teenagers, check out our Convo Pack: Teens materials.