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Is teaching ESOL to adults more challenging than with students in the United States?

I'm 28 and returning to college to get certified to teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). I think it's important to get feedback from someone with experience in this field because I would like to be a successful teacher! #teaching #teacher #bilingual-teacher #esol #tesol

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Deidre Mercedes’s Answer

One way to find out which target population you would be more comfortable with is to volunteer with an ESL program to see which group is a better fit for you. There are Afterschool programs that target ELL students and nonprofit organizations that offer ESL tutoring to adults. Teaching young children is rewarding in that they are receptive and enthusiastic. The older the children the more you get into issues of behavior, motivation and so on but it can still be worth your while because they I find that students from overseas tend to have more respect for teachers than American students. Teaching adults does have its set of challenges. While adults are highly motivated, there may be issues with attendance that comes with job changes or moving away, and also due to family obligations. Also there are cultural issues that you have to be aware of when teaching adult ESL classes. In addition, many English Language Learners, whether children or adults come with issues of trauma and we have to bear that in mind as well as it may interfere with their learning. All in all, no matter which group you eventually choose to teach, you will gain a strong sense of fulfillment, knowing your work has far reaching effect in improving the lives of others.

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Manuel’s Answer

Hi Mary,


I have some experience teaching ESL to both Children and Adults. Not surprisingly, both have their challenges. In classrooms with children you'll be dealing more with classroom management problems and making sure that the children are actively engaged and learning. You may experience behavioral issues especially from students that are placed in the class by their parents or who are in the class but are not very interested in taking the course. You might also experience behavioral issues and pretty much anything else you can imagine about dealing with children on a daily basis. Children in general have an easier time learning languages because they are not tied down to years of speaking their first language and the rules associated with it, they tend to be able to pick up new languages and concepts much faster.


Adults on the other hand tend to be more dedicated to the course as they are choosing to be there of their own accord. Many are taking English classes to be able to integrate more into society or to improve their job prospects. Adults tend to have a harder time with new languages as they will confuse their target language with their first language and the structures that their brain has built around their original language are harder to break.


That being said, both are equally rewarding. You should ask yourself if you are comfortable working with children or managing a classroom full of children.


-Manuel

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