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Student Types

silouhettes of child, teenager and adultIf you think language teachers may come in a range of shapes and sizes, wait until you witness the range of students you get to teach.

 

Some students are recalcitrant, some are delightful, some are dire. In most Thai schools, students will have some basic vocabulary and be able to write simple sentences, but their listening and speaking is usually poor (thanks to local teachers who adopt the ‘chalk and talk’ method of education).

 

The results are that students can recite the formula for the Passive Future Continuous Tense, but won’t be able to tell you what they had for dinner last night. Here’s what else you can expect from:

 

Young Children

Trying to find teachers to work in kindergarten can be like attempting to count the stars in a night sky -.exhausting work. The idea of attempting to teach a foreign language to children who can barely master their Mother Tongue is daunting. Yet young learners are among the quickest to pick up a new language and the most willing to please a teacher.

 

Up to the age of about six, experts reckon that children are the most receptive to new languages. On the plus side, young children will want to get acceptance and approval from their teacher. We’ve known students to literally jump up and down when they see you and respond enthusiastically to anything you want to do. On the down side, their attention span is short, so you’ll need to be using several short activities rather than one long one for a lesson.

 

Teenagers

Anyone who has seen ‘The Breakfast Club’ knows just how terrible teens can be.

 

Lethargy, disinterest and convenient amnesia when it comes to bringing books to class are just some of the problems. The one difference between teenagers and young learners is that the former prefer to please their friends, whereas the latter looks for approval from their teacher. Despite this, teenagers can be the most rewarding group to teach. Once you establish some ground rules, teens tend to be inquisitive, open to challenges and happy to take on new concepts. When planning lessons, you’ll need to find subject matter that isn’t too baby-like but that also isn’t too adult-orientated. Find out what students like, and then design some material around it. Teens rarely get tired of talking about sport, music, the internet and, of course, mobile phones.

 

Adults

As an English teacher, at some point you’ll be teaching adults. Your school may decide it wants all staff to learn some English (yes, even those laddish PE guys too), or you may pick up evening work teaching company workers.
Adults tend to be motivated (as they’re often the ones paying to learn) and can call on a whole lot more experience than your typical 12 year old. If things go well, classes can be rewarding. Some students come to class armed with questions and won't leave until you've answered them.

 

That said, if things go badly then adults will complain. Adults who are there because their boss put them there are likely to be less motivated than those who are paying for the course. Those who do wish to learn are likely to be far more vocal than younger students if they dislike your approach – you’re rarely going to find a Year 6 student moaning about your chosen teaching methodology.