There is a lot of material on onestopenglish for teaching teenagers. A lot of it is obvious as it is within the Teenagers section on the site. However, there is plenty of other material on the site which is suitable for using with your teenagers. This article takes a look at some of the materials available and suggests how they could be used and integrated into your teaching.
The article looks at materials from the following sections:
Most teenagers love games and songs and the Games section is absolutely packed with materials you can try with your classes. While playing Street Cats, kids (and adults!) actually don’t realize that they are practising grammar and syntax. It’s amazing watching teenagers playing this game and getting really competitive.
There are also lots of interactive games at different levels to choose from, including anagram games, wordsearches, matching activities, quizzes and lots more. These are available for Staff Room members, but there is a good selection of free games as well.
Another exciting group of content is the series of M Tunes song videos and interactive activities. My favourite at the moment is Did you ever wonder? It really did get me wondering – I went off and did a Google search to see if I could find out the answers!
One of the best things about the Games and activities section is that when the parents or other teachers ask the kids, “Why are you playing games again?”, they can answer, “We’re not, we’re learning English!”
It’s very important to encourage teenagers to read, but it can sometimes be a bit of an uphill struggle. In the Teaching section there is a section on reading with four great ideas to get you started.
The Spot on news lessons for teens are wonderful resources for getting teenagers interested in reading, but there are also other places on onestopenglish where you can find suitable material. For example, in the Reading skills section, there are some really interesting lessons for teenagers. Two of my favourites are one on Astrology and one on Maritime mysteries.
The key, of course, is to find topics that interest the kids – once you’ve done that then the rest is fairly easy. Often they find the topics in coursebooks boring or predictable, so having access to other reading materials will make lessons more exciting.
But what if your teens won’t read? Well, as I said before the key is to hook them, get them interested. One way of doing this is by getting them to listen to the stories first. On onestopenglish there are a number of graded Macmillan Readers that have been turned into podcasts, giving the students the option to read or listen to the story and do a number of exercises connected to each chapter of the book. Often students say they don't like reading, but what they mean is that they haven't found a book they are interested in, or the books they have tried have been far too difficult for them to cope with. These students might be interested in podcasts such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Space Invaders.
Many teenagers enjoy watching or listening to soap-opera-style programmes in their own language, so why not in English? A well-designed soap opera can include many examples of the kinds of language practised in many coursebooks, such as personal information, talking about likes and dislikes, talking about the weather and so on. For low-level students The Road Less Travelled is the perfect way to help them with their listening skills as well as looking at particular language areas that might arise.
The Live from ... series offers lots of authentic listening that will help students improve their overall listening skills. Again, quite a few of these lessons are suitable for teenagers and include a cultural element that makes the lessons even more interesting for the students. There is also the bonus that your students will feel more confident when they discover that they can understand what they are listening to – and it’s fun too!
Have you checked out the Lesson Share section? First of all there’s a whole section devoted to Young learners with some absolutely brilliant material for you to use. And check out the lesson on Glastonbury festival, a topic that will interest many teens, but isn’t necessarily one you’d have thought about for your lessons, or the one about the daily routines of monsters, zombies, ghosts and aliens – what a brilliant idea!
There’s also lots to choose from in the other sections in the Lesson Share area. For example, here’s a fun lesson on the third conditional in the Grammar section and here’s one on tag questions in the same section and what about this cool video lesson in the integrated skills section about poisonous puffer fish in Japan? Just the kind of thing my teenage students want to learn about!
An area that many teachers dread teaching teens is grammar! The G-word makes teens yawn and teachers groan, but it doesn’t need to be like that. Why not have fun with grammar? These lessons are sure to put a sparkle back into your gramar teaching.
Or why not try some of the archived grammar lessons? Here’s one which is done as a cartoon, which is always a hit with teens, just like this one with strange pictures.
There’s so much in the Vocabulary section that it’s difficult to know where to start, but possibly the best place are the theme-based lesson plans. For example, one on TV or one on sports or find out about American schools and get your kids to compare them to the one they go to.
Another area I’ve found teens to be fascinated in is the Word of the Week in the Magazine section. You’ll have to check it out first as some of the explanations are quite tricky, but it’s certainly well worth a visit.
The Teen talk articles in the Teenagers section are a set of ideas on getting teens to talk. These lesson ideas are really good, and there’s plenty more on onestopenglish if you just take a look. If your kids are into Harry Potter, they’ll love this lesson from the Speaking skills section. And this one that incorporates realia and the theme of being stranded on a desert island will also get them talking!
Materials for the teacher
Onestopenglish is not simply about materials that can be used straight away in the classroom, it also contains articles aimed at helping teachers with their professional development and with practical ideas that can lead to more fulfilling classes. There is an article on using projects (an area that often interests teens) and one on using comic strips. Both of these articles are responses to questions posted by teachers in the Ask the experts section. The Teacher Support area is always a great place to look for useful ideas and tips.
As you can see, on onestopenglish you'll find even more material for teaching teenagers than you can use. Just sticking to the section that is labelled 'Teaching teenagers' will certainly give you plenty of material, but with a little bit of digging there is so much more on the site that gives you added value. It’s also worth remembering that more ideas and materials are added all the time, so keep your eyes open and remember to take a look at stuff that isn’t necessarily marked ‘Teens’, you never know what gems you might turn up.