Teaching has been a passion of mine since I was 16 years old. I originally took a job as an assistant teacher at my high school in Bangkok to fulfill my community service requirement. I remember waking up at 6am every day to head off to school every day during my summer vacation, I had such a great time that I decided to do it again the following year. The first time round I was merely an assistant but the second time I was given some students to teach in my very own classroom and I absolutely loved it.
As luck would have it the college I attended had a special language course for foreign students and again I was given the chance to teach on a part-time basis. And these experiences are part of the reason that I chose to come to Japan on a study abroad program.
When I finally came to Japan to teach after I had graduated, I actually got a job teaching at an English school for kids. While I had a decent amount of experience teaching teenagers and adults I had never taught kids before and I soon realized a very important lesson; teaching kids is a whole new ballgame. While the goal may be the same (helping them master the English language) teaching kids requires energy, enthusiasm, many materials, and most importantly a system that teaches English from the ground up. That’s not the case for adults. English is a required subject for all junior high school and high school students. This gives the students a base from which to start from. However, most of the kids I meet here have practically no experience with English.
Is teaching kids fun? It’s great. Seeing them grow up and being a part of their lives for many years (I have many kids that I have taught for 6 years now) is truly an honor. Is it easy? In some ways yes, in others, no. If a school has a comprehensive system with good training then the answer is yes. In my opinion, games are the key. Learning how to integrate games into the classroom will help all the students learn faster. It can be challenging however, because kids have seemingly limitless energy and sometimes won’t stop till they get their way. (hey, we were all kids once so we’ve been there.)
Another small thing to consider is the classroom itself. Kids need more space.
So whether you want to teach kids or adults it’s important to understand that the techniques you need are not the same. A great kids’ teacher may or may not make a great conversational teacher, and visa-versa. Teachers should choose to go one way or another and focus on mastering the skills needed for one before moving into the other realm.
Whether I teach kids or adults I’m just happy to be able to do my part to help this ever changing society.