You can teach whoever you want, and I am not here to tell you who to teach, but if you are not 100% sure that you will be teaching adults then this post is going to explain why you should be taking a course focused on teaching children (sometimes referred to as "young learners") and not adults.
I took a TESOL course before I went to Taiwan (my first country) and spent a few days in a classroom with other adults like me wanting to go abroad and one teacher trainer. And that environment was not similar to the one where I ended up in nor was the course very helpful.
I started off teaching in Taiwan as a substitute in a number of different schools private and public and it was a total shock and nothing like that course. I realized teaching is hard. Really hard, but it could have been easier had I taken a course targeted at teaching those students.
At the end of this post I will tell about a course that is targeted, but for now let's see 7 reasons why you should take a course focused on teaching children.
Reason #1. Because that's where most of the jobs are.
I've taught English in China, Korea, Taiwan and lived in Japan for a total of 8 years and I can tell you that the majority of jobs there are for teaching kids and not adults. So I wanted to make this crystal clear to newcomers so I did some online research by looking at thousands of jobs offered in these 4 places.
And amongst all the research I did on job posts I found over 30,000 mentions of kids vs. just 3,000 of adults.
In other words there might be 30,000 jobs for teaching kids vs. 3,000 for adults. Learn more about the data.
Reason #2. Because your average TEFL course is focused on teaching adults and you probably won't be teaching adults
Most TEFL courses focus on teaching adults because most courses (at least on the surface) model CELTA. The "A" in CELTA is for adults. CELTA is the industry leader and the most acclaimed TEFL course and you've got hundreds of look alike TEFL courses.
Most courses will also tell you that their course will train you to teach both adults and children. But the truth is that any course that says that most likely won't.
Because as the saying goes... a jack of all trades is a master of none.
- "CELTA vs. Online TEFL - Which one?"
Reason #3. Because teaching kids is more difficult
Not to scare you away, but you should be prepared to teach kids because they are a handful. Sure, like in the pic below they are cute, but they can be difficult because unlike adults they are not tame, they are high energy and they have a short attention span.
And those 3 ingredients are a potent combination.
Reason #4. Because teaching kids is more fun
Despite being more difficult teaching kids is also way more fun than adults. Some adults can be fun, but many are very serious and tame (for better or worse). They are motivated to be there because their boss wants them to be or they want more money or...
But kids are more simple and they get motivated to learn if they are having fun. Your classes need to be fun or else you will have problems although on the other hand it's not just about playing games. Because they could have fun, but they might not learn or your classes could get out of control, so you have to orchestrate your lessons in a way so that they are both fun and educational.
Reason #5. Because your average TEFL course won't teach you enough practical tools for activities and classroom management
No, I don't know if every course focused on teaching children will teach you enough practical tools, but the one at end will.
The 2 courses I took over the years definitely didn't teach you many activities or give you a concrete classroom management plan because they were filled with too much theory, grammar and technical jargon.
Over the years what I learned that worked is that you want to know a lot of activities, exercises and routines that can be used interchangeably in your lessons. And that 1st course taught me a few activities, but I needed more and those that I learned were more specific to teaching more niche topics.
You want specific activities that can be used to teach vocab, sentences, Q&A, numbers, months, songs, etc. Activities that can be plugged into different lessons.
And it's not just the activities. It's when you use the activity and for how long. There are techniques for teaching before you use the activity for repetition or practice.
And classroom management...
Ouch, that is a tough one. Your students can be a BIG HEADACHE and a major stress. Even if you have pretty good lessons (which most of you new teachers won't) you can still have problem students and then...
- What are you going to do when they are speaking in Chinese, Korean or French?
- What are you going to do when they are talking when you are talking?
- What are you going to do when they are calling each other names?
- What are you going to do when they disrespect you?
Your average course like the two I took isn't going to teach you any specific system for this and that is what you need especially when you teach kids. You need some concrete rules and actions for when they are broken.
I look at it as a teacher of children you are part teacher, part friend, part fun guy, and part police officer.
Reason #6. Because you don't want to study grammar rules and jargon
If you don't like the idea of teaching technical English then try teaching kids.
Because at the lower-intermediate range where most new teachers start you're teaching more simple English and as mentioned above teaching kids can be fun.
Many TEFL courses out there are focused on textbook study like grammar rules and being able to describe the difference between the present perfect and the present continuous of blah, blah. Now there are some real grammar nazi's out there, but I will say this...
As a teacher you want to talk to your students in a language they can understand.
Because if you are not then you already lost them.
If you have been to a foreign country before and tried learning the language it probably didn't start with taking out a book and asking the locals, "can you teach me some conjunctions?"
No, it's more basic than that like pointing to pictures or real things and saying what's this? Or it's more situtational like how do I say...?
Maybe it's more important to know this jargon if you are teaching high level adults. But most of you won't be. Teaching high level adults is often reserved to teachers with a lot of experience who teach in universities.
Yes, you need to have an intuitive understanding of English grammar, because you don't want to teach them incorrect English, but if you are a native speaker then you already should already know that. The jargon, terms and grammar definitions are the abstract language behind the language you are teaching them.
Keep it simple.
Kids or the majority of English language learners don't care and don't need to know that.
Teach them how to use the language.
Reason #7. Because you want to have a better year abroad
Travel is appealing. It's probably what got you abroad or what's going to get you there. The travel, the experience or a desire to learn a new language or to submerge yourself in a different culture. The temples, the beaches and exotic places you have seen are appealing, but it's not where you will spend the majority of your time. Most of your time will be spent in a classroom teaching and most of you will be teaching mostly children.
So some of you may think I will only do this TEFL thing for a year so it doesn't really matter if I train or take a better course as I just want a job. Well, a year is long time and I know that teaching can be super challenging.
Or the next thing some newcomers say is "I am not a teacher" so it doesn't matter. I probably said the same thing when I started but the truth is everyone can learn and taking a targeted course will make your job and the time spent in the classroom much better.
Most of your time is spent in a classroom teaching so if you want a better year then put in the effort to learn because it will pay off.
Take this course (TEKA) because you want to have a better experience teaching English to mostly children.
If you want to learn how to have the best experience possible teaching English to mostly children in Asia then this course will help you do that.
- How to stand out in the eyes of an employer (even if you have no experience)
- How to deal with rude students, loud students, and just difficult students
- How to create lessons that are fun for you and your students
- How to teach each skill (including the most important one)
- How to get a good job (or at least a decent one)
- How to manage your classroom like the boss
- How to make the most of your time abroad
- How to create lessons that are educational
- How to maintain your student's attention
- How to create lessons with minimal prep
- How to avoid scams and horror stories
Take a closer look.