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July 21, 2005

Hello again. Well, summer is in full swing inthe northern hemisphere and thousands of teenagers have been sent off to benefit from English language courses during their school vacation. It's hardly surprising that learning is the last thing on their minds. After all, they've just had a full school year, probably taken hard exams and they really just want to have fun. So does this mean that teenagers and the ELT classroom are incompatible? Not necessarily but you really do need to make the courses on offer as enjoyable as you possibly can.

Be prepared for plenty of noise and lots of bustle. Have them be active as you can. Learning through activity is good if you have the facilities. Have them all cook something for the school disco party. Get them out and about gathering information, taking photos. Use songs a lot. You don't necessarily have to use the latest moronic pop music. Any songs with good lyrics will do. Singers like Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, or try folk songs. Plenty of meat in these for the language input and the music will help grab their attention.

Get them acting out short sketches. For writing practice have them keep journals but don't plaster them with red ink, instead hold full-class plenaries about erors. Use lots of team games for learning in the classroom.

If you can give them a goal for the end of the course, so much the better. Try ending with a spoken English exam, nothing too heavy but enough to show their parents they have achieved something. Don't forget that first impressions count, so make the first day truly enjoyable so they are keen to come back for more.

Don't forget to share your tips for surviving summer with teenagers.

Bye for now. Patricia.

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