In my fledgling TEFL career I have encountered many different classes and juggled a few too many grammar forms to the point that it even becomes confusing to me. So, as a native speaker who might have to take a step back and think about the mechanics behind the sentences I am using, it must be particularly daunting for a twelve year old student who is trusting your every move to deliver sound language advice.
That is why keeping your student’s interest becomes almost the key area of lesson planning, especially for the more senior classes. Having lower age groups to teach to can be a chore if they are adamant they don’t wish to behave that day and trying to reason with an angry six year old can be like drawing blood from a stone. This being said, nine times out of ten, if you just play a quick game of ‘duck, duck, goose’, a game based around zombies or anything related to throwing a ball around they are very, very happy and you have their attention.
A Different Approach for Seniors
Seniors on the other hand are probably better at FIFA than you are, own the latest i-device and have less interest in throwing a sticky ball against a wall as hard as they can. To keep them interested you need to stimulate their interest in the obscure or bizarre. More often than not they are keen to act in class, however minor it might seem, and require little encouragement to tell their classmates what to do if that is what the scenario requires them to do.
For example, a simple lesson about food and drink, whilst in the text book looks rather mundane, if you transfer that in to your class and make it into a role playing game based on yelling at a waiter or waitress, who so happens to be your friend, then everyone is rather keen to tell him or her what they want. On this basis, it is purely about making fun of your school friends.
A simple reading exercise you can more often than not supplement the text with your own articles. It is important to listen to your students and remember what they find enjoyable. Classes that are made up entirely of boys who don’t like sports are unlikely to react well to an article on the latest NBA drafts. It is always important to tailor subjects towards your students. Some teachers even keep a diary for their classes on the kind of hobbies that they enjoy.
All of this will help build for better classes in the future and it encourages the students to want to learn if they know they are not only being taken in to consideration when learning but also being able to relate the language they are picking up towards an area of their life they could use it in.
Once you have their attention and they trust that you will be making efforts to include their interests, then coming to school won’t seem like so much of a chore and they will enjoy, come back smiling and hopefully learn.