Are young learners avoidable??

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Are young learners avoidable??

Unread postby chrisc » 30 Sep 2011, 23:30

I've just passed the CELTA and am a bit disappointed to find that just about every job I have looked at requires teaching young learners! I thought the A in CELTA stood for adults, and I really don't feel prepared to teach a whole load of YL lessons...(Or business English classes, or beginner lessons for that matter!)
But is this just part and parcel of being an EFL teacher, and as a newly qualified teacher, am I being too picky in looking for a job teaching general English to adults?
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Re: Are young learners avoidable??

Unread postby Briona » 01 Oct 2011, 09:31

Whether you can avoid teaching YLs depends very much on where you want to work. If you have your heart set on working in Asia, teaching YLs will make up the bulk of your timetable as kids start learning English from as young as 3. In Western Europe the kids tend to be a bit older (8+), but there are still plenty of YLs, especially in countries such as Spain and Portugal. In Eastern Europe the YL:adult ratio is more balanced, but the YLs are still in the majority, e.g., in my school it's a 60:40 split in favour of the YLs. Teaching in the Middle East tends to be more adult-focussed, but you generally need to have two years' experience to land even an entry-level job there.

Note that a newly-qualified teacher who can (or will) only teach one type of student or level isn't a particularly useful teacher. I suspect that if you start your career saying "I don't want to teach YLs, Business English, beginners, exam classes, etc", it'll be a very short career indeed!
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Re: Are young learners avoidable??

Unread postby chrisc » 01 Oct 2011, 13:20

Yeah...I'm totally up for teaching young learners etc, but just don't feel very well prepared to do so after the CELTA. I was hoping to get some more experience teaching adults, then take the YL extension course...It's only that I want to be a great teacher, and don't really feel very well equipped for a lot of the jobs out there...As you say, for now I am narrowing my options massively...How easy is it to adjust to the wide range of class types after doing the CELTA?
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Re: Are young learners avoidable??

Unread postby Briona » 01 Oct 2011, 14:43

My first job after the CELTA involved teaching 4-10 year olds. Sure, it was a little bit like being thrown in at the deep end at first, but it was a great experience! Once you've done it, you'll wonder why you were worried about it. It was actually more scary when in my next job I ended up teaching 12-15 year olds with a couple of adult classes thrown in for good measure! This year I hope to get an exam class or two as the more experience you have, the more employable you become.

Some schools will take note of your lack of (or limited) experience and will try to provide you with a timetable that reflects your abilities, while others will timetable you with whatever's left over. But all good schools will have a network of support. I've always been given an in-depth induction which includes a session or two on YLs and lesson planning for them. I've also been observed several times and have been given feedback on these observations. And there is always someone you can go to for help. This may be a dedicated YL coordinator, a more senior teacher or the DoS/ADoS. You won't simply be left to your own devices.
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Re: Are young learners avoidable??

Unread postby Susan » 02 Oct 2011, 11:09

I agree with Briona that you are limiting your self too much. When you are new, it's very difficult to say: I won't teach YLs, business classes or beginners. You need to accept at least one of those. Having said that, I think teaching children is very different to teaching adults; you were trained to teach adults and it would be fair for you to say you don't want to teach children. I also think that Briona has been very lucky in always getting an in-depth induction. That is far from the norm in many schools. It's something you can ask about in an interview if someone asks you to teach something you have no experience in.

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