Young Learners vs. Adults by Isabel Fechas

I was recently faced with this question: “How is teaching Young Learners different to teaching Adults?” My first reaction was saying that it is very different, and I actually came up with some differences very easily. Adults are aware that they’re in a classroom to learn a second language whereas Young learners usually go there because someone (usually parents) take them there, even if they’re not really aware of the reasons. Another aspect is at the skills level. Adults are usually fluent in their L1 and already have some previous knowledge of the L2 they want to learn, which helps in terms of the time spent giving instructions, and, the most relevant for me, they can read!
However, there was something that I’ve only noticed this year when I started teaching Adults. They are usually more reticent to letting you know that they are struggling with something or that they simply don’t understand your instructions or what you’re trying to explain. So I came to the conclusion that just as with Young Learners, the teacher should try to establish routines to make Adult students feel confident and secure enough to admit their difficulties. And even though one usually thinks about games for Young Learners, I’ve discovered they work really well with adults, and they tend to relax, eventually helping them with their learning.
It seems to me that Adults and Young Learners have more in common than one might think at first glance.
So, after this small reflexion, I would like to leave you all the challenge of sharing some of your thoughts and ideas about this. We’ll be waiting for them!


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