Teaching higher-level young learners (over 20 suggestions)


Some young learners already have quite a good level of English (upper intermediate plus). They are sometimes very well travelled and often go to international schools where some subjects are taught in English. Here are over 20 suggestions about how to prepare for such students:

Young learners who are already around B2 or C1 level will get through material more quickly and will need to be pushed more than juniors at lower level. However, you can use a wider range of materials and expect more. Depending on the age, maturity and level of the young learner, you might want to consider (click on links for more info):

  • teaching them about aspects of, for example, British history through visits to local places of historical interest. Consider other school subjects you know something about
  • find out 3 or 4 areas that really interest them (hobbies, school subjects etc) and base some lesson planning around them
  • encourage them to write a daily journal (100 words per day is well within the capability of a higher level student)
  • add digital photos to journal (good description practice and great to show parents)
  • use language games e.g phrasal verb dominoes
  • extend their vocabulary through word building and synonyms
  • daily revision sessions (vocabulary, collocation, pronunciation, grammar) incl use of a word box
  • use Philosophy 4 Children discussion topics (thunks). These are wonderful!
  • invent challenging role plays
  • give them regular 5-minute silent reading tasks in lesson time (eg high level graded readers or normal novels).  Use for comprehension, prediction, discussion, reading fluency.
  • encourage reading in ‘free time’ with daily summary each morning
  • spend time looking at brochures or Wikipedia entries before visits
  • cookery lesson following a recipe
  • have a regular ‘grammar slot’ and give follow-up exercises for afternoon/evening ‘homework’ e.g. passives, past modals, futures, reported speech, rapid review of common irregular verbs
  • have a selection of challenging TEFL websites up your sleeve
  • work with your young learner to produce a questionnaire that could be used locally
  • maximise the integration of ‘lessons’ and activities
  • invite friends to be interviewed
  • how to get them in touch with suitable young people (good for confidence, motivation, vocab and fluency)
  • talk about wishing and regrets (I wish I’d, If only I’d etc)
  • practise expressing shades of opinion and certainty
  • show how to concede a point e.g. ‘Ah yes you have a point there, I hadn’t thought of that’
  • include high-use idiomatic expressions (though some slang may be too informal and inappropriate)
  • email each other for different invented reasons (use of different levels of formality)
  • in lesson time, have a 15-min session where you send numerous 1 or 2 sentence letters to each other on approx A6 size (or a little smaller) bits of papers asking questions e.g. ‘Which member of your family do you get on with best?’. The other person must reply. It gets very addictive!
  • Gap-fill song lyrics (work on possible answers before listening)
  • use short pieces of video e.g YouTube
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