Chinese teenagers…why are they amazing students?
Unless you come to China to work at a Kindergarten or a Primary School chances are you will be teaching all age groups and that includes: teenagers! Most prospective teachers, during the interview, when asked which age group they like, the most common answer usually goes something along the lines of: the little ones are very cute, the elementary school level kids need a lot of attention but I like teens and adults because I can communicate with them. But of course, this is not true for everyone; some are terrified of teaching teens, especially when it comes to behavior and attitude. So, let’s take an in-depth look at Chinese teenagers and discover how to make the experience of teaching teenagers an amazing one every time. In order to do this, we will start by meeting a Chinese teenager who is currently an ESL student at EF Shijiazhuang and then looking at some challenges faced by teachers when teaching teens and how to overcome them.
A day in the life of a Chinese teenager
Meet John, he is 13 and he lives in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, in China. John has a very busy life, Monday through Friday he attends his middle school, a very early start around 7:00 in the morning and after a full day of lessons there comes a few extra hours of homework after a short bike ride home and he’ll make it to bed shortly past midnight. If he doesn’t have homework, he’ll still make it to bed way past midnight as he would use the free time to enjoy his favorite computer games or chat with his friends on WeChat or QQ. When does he have time to have fun? During the weekend, right? Wrong! During the weekend John will attend on average three extra-curricular classes ranging from music (he plays the guitar) to math to the most important subject of them all (and his favorite): English! Whatever little time he has left he will go play basketball with his friends at the local sports center or dedicate more hours to sharpen his skills as an avid computer game player.
Don’t feel bad for John, he actually has a full and very busy life, and he is quite fortunate to be able to have access to the education he’s receiving. Still feel bad? Then, think about this. If you come to China, you’ll have plenty of students like John, for a couple of hours a week he will be your pupil, make sure he is having fun and enjoying the process of learning English. Furthermore, build a rapport with your students, get to know them and personalize your lessons to their likes, for example, you might love Nirvana, but your students will appreciate it more if you played some Michael Jackson or Linkin Park who are by far more popular and better know by Chinese teens, Nirvana is something their parents listened to. Many teachers sometimes wonder if they make a difference in their students’ lives. Small details like playing music they like, creating engaging lessons make a huge difference.
Teaching teens is always rewarding
You’ve met John, the time he spends in your classroom will be a time he’ll use to learn, improve on all his skills, to talk to his classmates and to his teacher. Since teenagers have an attention span of over 50 minutes from the age of 11, they learn a lot faster and retain a lot more, thus, they are eager to practice what they have learned.
During class, after class, every second he is in school, John will jump at the opportunity to communicate with his teacher and this is something that ESL teachers really appreciate. Being able to communicate more naturally, without having to grade language so much, but is this is only reason teenage students are so great? It is actually the challenges they pose that makes them so great.
In fact, teaching teenagers can pose many challenges, for instance:
– Discipline problems – if the topic is boring they’ll tune out
– Attitude – having a bad day? Problems with friends? Teens don’t leave their problems at the door
– Motivation – If they don’t have a genuine reason to learn, they will never genuinely learn
While these problems are always present, they are manageable. There are always ways to keep teenagers engaged, it’s all a matter of getting to know them, find out what their interests are and incorporate that into the lessons. By doing this, the teen will find the topic interesting and he will feel motivated enough to leave any problems at the door and participate in class. Of course, this is not fool-proof, but it helps a great deal, students will respond well and your lessons will be a success.
The pursuit of motivation
Chinese teenagers have very busy lives, they have tonnes of homework to do and their love for computer games is almost an obsession. But, they are great students who are eager to learn and participate. This doesn’t happen automatically, the teacher brings the magic by getting to know the students and incorporating their thoughts and ideas into the lesson so they will feel interested and motivated.
If you’d like to teach amazing teens and all other age groups, click here and apply for positions available at EF Shijiazhuang, they are interviewing now!