English teachers working with young learners – children in primary school, adolescents in secondary school, or young adults at university – recognize that learners in this day and age think and behave differently than those from previous generations, noted Adam in his session.
This generation has been labeled the Net Gen, the Millennials, and, most frequently, Generation Y. These students were born into a world of information technology; they prefer to multitask rather than focus on one thing at a time, and they can be more attracted to the ideas of a peer or a web video than what their teachers have to offer.
Generation Y is significant, as it constitutes a major element of the world’s population; somewhere in the region of 20 percent. As Generation Y’s occupies the young end of the population demographic, we can assume that many second language learners belong to this group, making it worthy of our attention and understanding.
Contemporary research on Generation Y has originated in developed nations, although examination of Generation Y is increasing throughout the entire academic world. Whereas Generation Y has received much attention in the academic literature of many fields, this is not yet the case in ELT research. This lack of consideration is regrettable, as most Generation Yers are currently – or will soon be – English language learners. Adam’s talk aimed to address this shortcoming by enlightening ELT professionals as to the nature of Generation Y, while presenting a few teaching strategies aimed at engaging this age group in the English classroom.
The talk culminated in a list of ’10 Commandments’ for teaching Generation Y with technology:
- Thou shalt not be afraid of technology
- Thou shalt teach them how to use search engines properly
- Thou shalt get them using video clips
- Thou shalt handle multitasking with care
- Thou shalt use visuals, visuals and more visuals
- Thou shalt encourage interaction and opinion sharing
- Thou shalt tap into their collective intelligence
- Thou shalt require them to type their work
- Thou shalt give them opportunities to create their own content
- Thou shalt let them know what you think
Adam’s presentation can be downloaded here.
Adam Simpson for British Council Roving Reporters Team.