Is there a difference between teaching adults and children?
As Polish teachers this is a question we hear quite often. The answer is an emphatic YES, but what we need to remember is to never suppress an adult’s “inner child.” What does that mean for the person who teaches Polish lessons to foreigners?
First of all
Have fun! If your students have fun during the Polish course, there is better chance that they’ll love the language (even if it’s Polish).
But …how to have fun?
Bring games to the lessons, provide funny and interesting materials, don’t kill the students’ motivation by constantly overwhelming them with grammar. While grammar is extremely important, particularly in the Polish language, lessons can’t be all about that!
Lighten up. Remember, your students are human beings who have work, daily responsibilities, a lot on their minds, and are very often extremely tired. They have bosses, deadlines, and host of different factors which can cause stress. They don’t need another person to add to that.
Conversation! When we teach, we try to initiate Polish conversation even at the lowest level of learning. It’s important to start students talking during those first lessons. Even if they’re failing at it miserably, the process of speaking is important. To avoid the student developing a complex about speaking Polish, try not to correct every mistake he/she makes. Remember: every sentence spoken at the early stages should be seen as a huge success! They will feel like they did when they were children and constructing their first sentences. (By the way, Poles love foreigners who speak Polish even if they’re horrible at it! It shows they’re making an honest effort.)
Fourth and last
Motivation! Adults have a different attitude toward learning a language than children, so their motivation is also different. If you are Polish teacher, ask your students the reasons they want to study the Polish language. The approach for teaching a person hoping to get a Polish language certificate, stay in Poland and work using that language, is far different from the one used for the person who is going to stay in Poland for only two or three years and just wants to socialize within the community. If you confuse the goals, you’ll not only fail, you’ll stifle the joy of learning the Polish language!
The bits of advice shown above are based on our experience in teaching Polish as a foreign language. But they’re universal and will be common to any language you teach.