The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures

From the mouths of babes

Another share today. This time an article which I stumbled on which I think is really interesting. There is always a lot of talk about how coursebooks are/can be outdated or out-of-touch – which is very true for some of them – but it’s actually quite difficult to propose ways of improving them.

The one obvious way would be topic choice, but again, how would a teacher know what current teenagers or young adults would want to learn about? (We might think we know…)

For sure, if you teach a class for a while you will get to know them and what they like and are happy to talk about, but it becomes more difficult if you change classes regularly or if your students change regularly. This is why (I assume) coursebooks use general topics which theoretically appeal to most students, but this is dangerous when we are dealing with younger adults and teenagers, especially considering the turn-around time of coursebooks (ages) and the changing interests of our students (frequent).

I think even if we think we know a class, often we are falling into accepted ideas and generalisations of what our students like and what they want to learn about. And of course we need to realise that interests often don’t translate well into the classroom. So, the best way to get around the problem of generalisation is to simply ask your students and see what they come up with (and then listen to them!).

Fiona Maunchline decided to do just that and asked her class of teenagers exactly what they wanted to talk about in her lessons, and the results, I think, are quite surprising.

Have a read of her article Gaga’s grandma and garden clippings – or choosing themes for teens here and see what you think.



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This entry was posted on July 31, 2016 by in advice, General TEFL and tagged , , , , , , .

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