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Have you had experience in teaching teens? Please help with tips or warnings! 
17th-Jun-2012 01:05 pm
I usually teach university students. For the next 5 weeks my university is running an English program for students who are between 13 and 16 years old. I am totally petrified. My students will be the lowest beginner level students.

Any tips from teachers who teach this age group regularly? These students are Turkish.

Thanks in advance!

PS: Cross posted on my other ESl teaching community journals.
17th-Jun-2012 10:52 am (UTC)
Okay, tried to share some links with you and the community reported it as spam. Sigh. So here is my comment without the links:

Just keep in mind that lectures will not go well-- their eyes glaze over, they tune out and slump over desks like it's the most painful thing in the world. They love games, but particularly ones that rely on teams, because they will get competitive. For example, Apples to Apples is a game that works really well for teaching vocabulary, if you make them explain their choices (i.e. "I think NAME is ADJECTIVE because I don't like that kind of music."), and read aloud the cards the other students contributed, to work on pronunciation. Other games like Taboo work well too. I did this once for a group of students who were studying a movie involving a road trip, so I cut out two little cars, drew a road on the board with dashes along the road, and each point (or minus point) made the cars move forward or backward in a race. It was fun because it helped them visualize how the two teams (or more) were doing in the competition.

I did this game too (Google: ESL DESERT ISLAND STRANDED for link) and it was HILARIOUS.. I did several rounds, i.e. the first round each team got one item and explained how they would use it to survive on the desert island. I had items like a hanger, toilet paper, a weird hat etc so the replies were really creative and funny. Then they got a second item and had to explain how they would use their two items to fend off a pirate attack. Lastly they got a third item and had to use all three items to escape the island. This game is fantastic because it means THEY have to ask YOU how to say something, so they are completely involved in the learning process and really learning how to express themselves, even simply.

This is for English teachers in France, but you might find some good ideas: (Google: ESL LESSON PLANS IELANGUAGES)

Edited at 2012-06-17 10:53 am (UTC)
18th-Jun-2012 06:15 am (UTC)
Thanks very much! I appreciate your help!
19th-Jun-2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
These are good ideas, but I can't see them working with the "lowest level beginners" as the OP described. I have a hard time teaching the lowest level because it's so hard to come up with games to keep it interesting and lively. The best I can manage are things like individual students on teams competing to spell a word first.
19th-Jun-2012 02:40 pm (UTC)
It really depends on two things: your ability to speak the students' native language, and the level of vocabulary you are using. If you are able to explain rules and translate vocabulary for them in their language, then you are set. If not, I agree that it may be difficult for them to understand you and the games/scenarios.

RE vocabulary: I made different card sets for all levels of my students, because I knew that the 14 year olds would do best with very simple language and my 17 year olds would be able to form relatively complex sentences. Apples to Apples is great for this because you can choose very simple adjectives and nouns, and explain as you go along. I.e. you explain what the adjective "pretty" means, the kids all nod their heads in understanding and then they choose the word (or the image, if you want to do A+A with images for simplicity) and bam, they have gained an understanding of that one adjective in particular. I ask the student judging to pick the item that he/she finds most pretty, and if their level is high enough, they then need to explain "X is pretty because ____." At the end of the game, I tell them we make a joke that the cards describe you, and it's good for them to review while saying "I'm pretty, weird and funny!"

Taboo is also very possible with simple language. The desert island game is best for more advanced groups, but can be adapted to lower levels if you're willing to really hold their hands through the exercise, and do the majority of your explanation in their mother tongue. Like I said, this is a good opportunity to have them ask you how to say things, and work together in groups to form a sentence. I.e. If they asked me how to say "hanger" in English, I write it on the board. They want to use the hanger to catch fish to eat, so they might make a phrase like "I kill fish with hanger," and then you can help them choose better vocabulary-- like "I catch fish with the hanger." And so on and so forth. If your students are not up to creating simple phrases in groups, then this will still be too advanced.
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