6 Advice to teachers of teenagers
6 Advice to teachers of teenagers
6.1 Teaching English to teenagers
It is important for teachers to be aware of some of
the characteristics of teenagers that affect teaching
and learning. These have been taken into account in
the design of this course. General characteristics and
how to respond to them:
(i) Clearer personal goals: teachers need to tap into
the positive aspects of their students’ goals and
encourage the students to shape these goals for
their long-term benefit and the benefit of society.
(ii) Firmer opinions: teachers need to understand
and acknowledge the opinions of the students,
while at the same time introducing them to
alternative ways of thinking.
(iii) Greater interest in the outside world: students
can be motivated to find out more about the
world and make use of this knowledge in
(iv) Importance of peer pressure: teachers need a
clear strategy to identify students who have
influence over their peers, so that their leadership
qualities can be used for the good of the class.
(v) Understanding of abstract concepts: this is a key
aspect of educational growth. Students should be
encouraged to take an interest in the underlying
concepts and rules of English.
(vi) Critical thinking: the ability of students to
evaluate alternative courses of action can be
harnessed to promote spoken and written skills.
(vii) A more reflective attitude to information:
students should be encouraged to interpret the
meaning of listening and reading texts in their
own way and to discuss the interpretations
6.2 Lesson planning
It is advisable to read the teaching notes for each
unit before beginning to teach it. This will give a
clear idea of the content and activity types in the unit
well in advance. It is also a good idea to plan blocks
of lessons at a time, for example, a week’s classes.
This will make it easier to gauge the students’
progress and to prioritize. Individual lessons should
be planned at least a day in advance, to allow time
to gather the appropriate materials and become
familiar with the content of the lesson.
Planning a lesson in advance will also result in
greater confidence during the lesson. This confidence
will facilitate appropriate decisions during a lesson.
It will also be easier to manage time; for example,
knowing which activities can be left out if time is
short, or when to stop an activity if it seems to be
taking up a disproportionate amount of time. Note
that approximate timings are provided for each stage
of the lesson as guidelines for the expected duration
and relative importance of each activity. However,
it is left to the teacher’s judgement to manage class
time. The key to good time management is to have a
clear idea of the essential aims of the lesson. Plenty
of time should be allowed before a lesson to plan the
following important areas:
• classroom language
• use of the board in the lesson
• layout of the class (arrangement and movement of
furniture, organizing the class into groups, etc.).
Using objects, photos and authentic materials such
as leaflets, books, posters and timetables in English
lessons is a good way of keeping the students’
attention. Although the use of realia is not essential
(because the texts in the Course Book are designed to
be as realistic as possible), learners respond well to
three-dimensional stimuli. The time taken in finding
realia will be well rewarded by the opportunities
for practice and stimulating discussion that objects,
pictures and articles provide in class.
6.3 Recycling language
The teaching notes for some lessons include ways of
recycling language from earlier units. However, it is
assumed that teachers will take every opportunity
to do this throughout the course. There should be
a variety of regular routines for revision, so that it
is both repetitive and varied. For example, get the
students to ask their partner questions, then report
back to the teacher. Other points that can be revised
during a lesson include:
• Social language and ways of keeping a
conversation going, including question tags:
Really? That’s nice. Was it?
• Phrases for asking for and expressing opinions:
What do you think? I think … I agree …
I disagree. Maybe you’re right.
• Describing location and giving directions:
Where’s the new shopping centre? How do I get
to the library from here?
• Adjectives to describe experiences and places: What
was it like? How did you feel? Was it interesting?
• Using a range of tenses: What did you do? What
happened next? What was your friend doing?
Have you ever been to Egypt?
• Talking about timetables: What time does
the sports centre open? When do you have
• Imperatives and polite requests (including lend
and borrow): Let’s work in groups. Could you
help me, Zeena? Can you lend Nadia your book?
Can I borrow your pen?
6.4 Organizing pairwork and group work
Activities in 21st Century English for Libya,
Preparatory 3 frequently require students to be
organized into groups or pairs. It is important to
ensure that this organization happens as smoothly
and quickly as possible, so that it does not disrupt
the flow of a lesson. Since the students’ attention
will be distracted once they are sitting in groups, it
is a good idea to explain or demonstrate an activity
before you split the class up. You can then be sure
that everyone is able to see and hear you.
Give clear instructions for rearranging furniture
or moving seats around. If the students need their
books, notebooks or pens, make sure that you tell
them to take them when they change seats. If you
are dividing the class into two groups, either draw
an imaginary ‘line’ down the middle of the room,
making sure there are equal numbers on each side,
or give each student a letter A or B. Then tell the
A students to sit on one side of the classroom and
B students on the other. It will save time if you
think carefully about your students before the
lesson. When dividing the class into smaller groups,
you should generally try to ensure that students
of similar ability are working together. The more
able or confident students will, however, help less
confident students, so it is useful to have a mixed
ability in each group. If you know that some groups
or pairs will finish early, have some extra work
ready for them to do, or a game for them to play.
This will allow you to give the rest of the class
the help and encouragement they need, as well as
giving all the students time to finish the set task.
For pairwork, it is easiest to ask students to work
with students who sit near them. However, pairings
should be varied sometimes to make language
practice more interesting, so from time to time
ask students to make new pairs. The interaction
will be more genuine if students are talking to
someone they don’t know very well, e.g., if they are
exchanging opinions or talking about their hobbies
and experiences. Moving students to a new seat
also keeps them interested and alert; rearranging the
classroom helps to signal a new stage in the lesson.
When you want to return to full-class activities, or
stop an activity to give instructions, make sure you
have everyone’s attention and that all the students
have stopped talking before you begin. It is a good
idea to use a regular signal, such as clapping your
hands or ringing a bell.
6.5 Continuous assessment
There are written tests to help assess progress in
listening, vocabulary development, reading and
writing in each unit (see Components of the course).
In addition, assessment of students’ progress should
be incorporated into normal lessons. It is a good idea
to keep a written record of individual achievements
in reading, writing and speaking. Teachers are
advised to record their students’ progress in a way
that is suited to their own teaching situation. In
the case of reading, it is useful to listen to students
reading texts at regular intervals throughout the
year. Writing can be assessed while students are
completing writing activities in class, or when the
Workbooks are collected in. Written work can be
graded, but this should be carried out sensitively
As well as using the speaking activities suggested in
this book, the teacher may want to assess speaking
by choosing four or five students to concentrate on
before a lesson begins. Particular attention can then
be paid to their participation in open-class situations
or in pairwork. It is possible to assess students
regularly in this way, preferably while they are
unaware that they are under assessment.
Note: It is important to assess a student’s effort,
not just the results that he/she achieves. In choosing
materials for students to read, or when asking
questions to assess speaking, it is important to pitch
assessment at an appropriate level. If students are
particularly able, they can be given challenging texts
for reading and asked more demanding questions; if
students are struggling, they should be given tasks
appropriate to their level. Your assessment of the
students over a period of time will then genuinely
reflect their progress, rather than their ability to
attain unrealistic targets.
Depending on the educational policy, you may
or may not assign regular homework. But some
independent study is useful in encouraging students
to take responsibility for their own learning. If you
do give students tasks for independent study, it is
important to keep a record of the students who
complete the work on time. If you make it clear that
you are keeping track of those students who fail to
hand in homework, the students will be more likely
to make an effort. Correction of independent work
should promote positive reinforcement at the same
time as giving constructive criticism. At this level the
students can be directed towards areas that require
improvement (in the case of written work, for
example, they should be advised if they are not doing
enough planning, if their work is not organized
satisfactorily or if they need to proofread their work
more carefully before they hand in a final version).
Instead of correcting errors of grammar, spelling
or punctuation straight away, it is a good idea to
highlight mistakes and get the students themselves
to work out how to correct them. Self-correction
is a valuable skill that needs to be developed if the
students are to improve the quality of their written
work. To be fair to the students, make sure that you
set and explain homework clearly and that students
know the deadline for handing in their work. The
students need clear rules so that they can successfully
organize their own time.