Q&A: we answer your questions about English language teaching

The world of English language teaching (ELT) is a constantly changing one – and even more so in recent years as the industry embraces new technology and teaching methods. So, what is the one question you’ve always wanted answering when it comes to teaching English...

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The world of English language teaching (ELT) is a constantly changing one – and even more so in recent years as the industry embraces new technology and teaching methods.

So, what is the one question you’ve always wanted answering when it comes to teaching English as a second language? We’ll answer it for you, using our mix of experience, blog research and team of experts.

Of course, nothing is ever black and white. And when you combine that with our hyperconnected world of rapid technology and social change, there is no definitive guide to what works in every learning environment. But we hope we provide you with some useful guidance and points for discussion and debate regarding your questions about English language teaching.

This week’s question

Our first question comes from Nicola Linde Ruiz, via our Facebook page. She asks for more hints and tips when it comes to teaching teenagers.

This is a great question – one that often comes up in conversations about ELT. Start by reading our blog Wrangling teenagers in class – 3 approaches that can help. It acknowledges that the gap between teaching teenagers and teenagers actually learning is daunting – but there are ways to close this gap. Keeping your teenage learners is one of the biggest challenges, but there are lots of ways to capture their attention and keep them focused. For example, motivation stems from comprehension – and this is more likely when a student sees something on the page or on the screen that tweaks their interest. So try linking your lessons to the latest news stories, or movies they might have seen or songs they listen to. Authentic material like this can enrich lessons and keep teenagers interested and motivated. Read the rest of the blogs for further tips on helping your students to remember words and understand their meanings.

Next, take a look at this blog by Nik Peachey, 7 ways you can use technology to engage with students. He recognises that technology plays an important role in most teenagers’ lives, and it is sensible to embrace it in the classroom. However, an important point to note is that emergence of these technologies in the hands of students in the classroom can create a power struggle. This is because the students have in their hands a source of information that is vastly greater than a teacher and which they control themselves. For many teachers this is hugely challenging, and Nik’s suggestions for turning this around and ensuring technology aids teaching is well worth reading.

Finally, check out this series of special webinar events that were held as part of the Wider World initiative by Pearson ELT. This is a special programme of talks by ELT experts that include TESOL Professor Dr Ken Beatty and teacher trainers Elena Merino and Brian Engquist. Each webinar focuses specifically on the challenges faced by teachers of teenagers. They range from exploring how the teenage brain works, to how assessment can help teachers understand teenage learners better and help them to tailor their teaching methods. You can watch the first recorded webinar here:

What’s the one question you’ve always wanted answering when it comes to teaching English as a second language? We’d love to hear your suggestion for the next question to be answered – let us know in the comments section below…

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