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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 9th, 2009, 12:46 pm
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Default Teaching teenagers

Hi everybody!

This is my first post here, although I've been a regular visitor over the last while. I'm an Irish guy, I taught for the summer in Ireland, and now I've just moved to Barcelona where I'm starting my job this day next week.

I just have a quick question for all of you regarding teaching teenagers. You see, in my old school, it was generally the case that students had come of their own free will and paid a not-insignificant amount of money to be there, and thus had a pretty clear motivation to be 'good' students. The vast majority were fully grown adults.

In my new school, however, some of my classes will invovle teaching teenagers, around intermediate level, who have not yet done their 1st certificate. I'm told by my boss that at times they can be lethargic/troublesome and whatnot, and that I've to be 'strict' to a certain extent and 'put my foot down' in order to prevent them from screwing with me.

Now, this is a dynamic I'm not used to, and one which makes me a little uneasy. I'd really appreciate any advice those of you with experience can give me. How do you go about it? How do you deal with them 'misbehaving'? Is the 'I'm-in-charge' attitude an absolute necessity and if so, how do you get it across to them? I mean, I want everyone to enjoy my classes, but I'm told that being their 'friend' (which was always the case in my old school) is a bad idea.

Any and all help would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 11th, 2009, 02:54 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hi, Irish guy teaching in Barcelona!
I've been teaching teenagers for several years now, and my experience is that it isn't necessary to be strict. I also have this friend-like style of teaching and don't have any problems. Sure, not all of my students come willingly to classes (they are usually forced to come by overzealous parents), at first at least. However, when they realise that classes can be fun and interesting as well as educational, they become hooked and start coming to classes of their own free will.
The thing is: you don't have to be strict and 'lay down the law', but what you must be is consistent and set boundaries because little angels will sometimes try to test you.
I hope this helps you some.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 11th, 2009, 05:33 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Thanks Jelena!
That sounds cool. I was thinking of the best teachers in my secondary school, and it was always the ones who were personable and reasonably friendly, but who made it clear consistently where the line was.... so, thanks for the good advice
more advice is of course welcome!
and by the way, my name is daniel.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 11th, 2009, 06:43 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Nice to meet you, Daniel!

I don't know whether you've started teaching already or not, but let me describe the ice-breaker that always works for me:

Each student should draw 2 or 3 pieces of paper. On these pieces are lines like: Tell me something about rainy days. Tell me something about chocolate. Tell me about something with four legs. etc. Students should take turns in speaking.

The exercise works for several reasons: they usually personalise these topics and start talking about what is important to them, you get to know them, they get to know each other and you get to make mental notes on their level of knowledge, strengths and weaknesses.

I'm just preparing for the new school year, which, for me, starts on Monday. I teach (teenagers and adults mostly) in a language school in Belgrade. If you need any more advice, don't hesitate to ask.

Pozdrav,
Jelena
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 13th, 2009, 09:13 am
Pix Pix is offline
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hi there,

For me I don't try to be their friend - after all most teenagers think adults are totally BORING to be around!

But I show them I care about their learning and I aim to be a role-model.

I like the "love and logic" philosophy, some of which is described here:
Golden Rules of ESL Classroom Management

I'm sure you'll do fine!

Kind regards
Shelley
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 13th, 2009, 04:08 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Be friendly, but you can not be their friend. You can - and must - share your knowledge, awareness, and guide them toward becoming autotelic learners and better English speakers.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 14th, 2009, 12:56 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

I don't think teenagers are a problem. Try 11 and 12 year olds. They can be a handful. By the time they are 13 and 14, they are actually much better behaved than the younger ones. Guaranteed!

Be interested in them, be firm, have a good class, be competent. You'll be fine.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 15th, 2009, 10:40 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hi everyone, My name is Alexandre. I´ve been teaching for six years. |this year I have got many teenagers and I would like to know from someoen how to teach a 12 year old boy? Should I improve only the speaking part or should I improve the grammar?
thanks
dalalex

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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 17th, 2009, 08:15 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

I worked at an all-boys high school in Fukuoka, Japan. After about a year of teaching there, I was asked to improve my discipline skills and to observe a 14-year veteran teacher.

In his class, he spent at least the first 3-4 minutes screaming "Shut up!" to various boys. I felt like Bill Murray in the movie "Stripes" (movie quote - snickering: Who does this guy think he is?) He also had the boys stand up until they could answer a question which I decided to borrow and continue to use.

Later, while team teaching, the Japanese teacher asked me to say "Shut up", but I refused. I merely said to the noisy students, "Do you have a question?" They got a little embarrassed and said, "No, no question" and stopped making disturbances.

I must admit that, over the past three years, I have gotten angry enough to say "Shut up!" (3-4 times). I always regret it later. Some kids still hate me for it, I think. I haven't done it, yet, this year and hope I can control my anger.

Basically, I want to keep my sense of humor and, as Shelley said, show them I care about their learning.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 19th, 2009, 08:31 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hi,Daniel:

I have been "learning" from the teenagers for ages and I must say i'm still. The one thing I must remind you for a productive class is that it always rewards that if you have a clear lesson plan in advance and you never fail them if you do complete your plan.Classroom management is important only for those who have trouble sharing what's good and what's fun.
Bear in mind that they come to the classroom to get educated.
It is we that stand on the platform and decide thier one-hour fate, so i always give them the plans I made beforehand.
Leave those low-motivated kids alone. Once they think or find that your class rocks, they will come to you straightly.
I always spend the most of my time evaluating my fun-rate.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 23rd, 2009, 04:37 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Thanks for all the advice everyone! As it happens, of my three groups of teenagers, two of the groups are quite quiet and dilligent and I enjoy doing the lessons with them. One of the classes, however, is a bit troublesome -- you know, full of those kind of teenage girls who just want to gossip and aren't really interested. Like you, missdolly, I'd be reluctant to get very angry with them, but at the same time, lines have to be drawn ... so today I'm going prepared with some hefty extra work for anyone who annoys me three times...

By the way, Jelena, I used the ice-breaker you gave me -- not bad!

Any and all further advice is very welcome!
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  #12 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 27th, 2009, 10:21 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

If you can harness their gossiping into a productive learning activity they will only thank you for it. See if you can adapt the lesson plan - especially the production part - to be on a topic that they normally want to gossip about (be it last nights TV, boys...). As long as you are practicing the structure that you have taught this will only benefit them because they will realise that the structures are transferable to any situation. Of course if you are learning something specific like How to Rent a Car this is tricky (although you can do it by saying "imagine you want to impress that girl you like, which car would you rent to take her on a trip..." etc). It's easier said than done though - I would love to know how to do this properly but if you can do it it might be a good idea...
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  #13 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 27th, 2009, 01:29 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Quote:
Quote Klee View Post
If you can harness their gossiping into a productive learning activity they will only thank you for it. See if you can adapt the lesson plan - especially the production part - to be on a topic that they normally want to gossip about (be it last nights TV, boys...). As long as you are practicing the structure that you have taught this will only benefit them because they will realise that the structures are transferable to any situation. Of course if you are learning something specific like How to Rent a Car this is tricky (although you can do it by saying "imagine you want to impress that girl you like, which car would you rent to take her on a trip..." etc). It's easier said than done though - I would love to know how to do this properly but if you can do it it might be a good idea...
yes, I think Klee is quite right and I'd like to expand more on this topic- when working with teenagers it is important that classes should be fun. I'd suggest role playing and pair work whenever it's possible. also some live demonstrations of the topic of the lesson, pictures of film stars/other famous persons etc.

for the first few classes you can use (for example) the topic "things in common" where in pairs they have to find out several things they have in common, or think of some famous couples and make others guess who they are by enumerating the things each couple has in common. in that way they also get better acquainted with each other which is important for the starting lesson.

hope this helps also.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 22nd, 2009, 06:09 am
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hi , according to my experience , something you can do is to make that messy boy to participate more in your class , use him for examples , I mean , imagine this situation :
You are teaching the seasons, choose four students, one represents winter, another one represents autumn or fall , etc , and make this misbehaving guy to be the sun and to pass around the seasons.
This always works , because if you keep the messy students active , they won’t be distracting their classmates and usually they get very focused on what they have to do (if you use them for explanations) because they’re in front of the class.
As the rest of the users say , classes must be fun and challenging, choose an interesting topic, something new or something that happened lately , make them to present news in front of the class , I think something important and useful , is to allow them to choose what they want to do (according to contents obviously), give them the right to decide how they are going to work , and be sure their attitude at activities and classes , will improve.

Hope this is a little of help for you.

Regards.
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  #15 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 31st, 2009, 04:43 pm
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Default Re: Teaching teenagers

Hey,

I agree with the folks who say you can't be their friend. Sounds mean, because I really hated school and thought I'd have loved to have a teacher who was genuinely trying to help me. . . but, well, my worst hitting-my-head-against-a-wall experience was trying to teach two brothers who were getting ready to go to Texas (their father was in the German military.)

In the end, I became 'the heavy' that I never wanted to be (and haven't been since, as I stick to adults) and handed out homework as a 'punishment' for making grammar mistakes just because they didn't care. . . and even required one to write a sentence about appropriate behavior in class thirty times.

One thing that did go well, however, was requiring them--in a structured setting--to prepare a presentation about something they could teach me. I learned about fishing and about the fantasy world from some German novels I've never heard of. . . it got them alive and animated and really communicating. But, getting them to the point where they were ready to communicate only happened that one time.

Let us know what works for you!
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