ETpedia Teenagers: 500 ideas for teaching English to teenagers

by Edmund Dudley
Pavilion 2018

ETpedia Teenagers is the latest handbook in a series which also includes books of ideas for teaching business English, young learners, technology, grammar and exams. It seems to have taken a long time for publications focusing specifically on teenagers to be produced, so it is great to see a book like this finally available. It is obviously a labour of love, and what comes across clearly is that Edmund Dudley is a classroom practitioner who speaks from extensive, reflective experience. His style is clear and conversational, and the layout of ten top tips per section keeps the writing on point.

The book is divided into two parts: the first focusing on general approaches to understanding and managing teenagers. This would make an excellent introduction for teachers new to working with this age group. Having trained many teachers on CELTA courses who have gone on to first jobs involving many, or mostly, classes of teens, I would very much have appreciated having this book to recommend. It is also a beneficial reminder to all teachers of teens, especially when taking on a new class or encountering barriers to positive class dynamics, of strategies to include all the students in the lesson, find out about them and involve them in the learning process.

My favourite section here is on ways in which to incorporate L1 in the classroom. The vast majority of English teachers share the same L1 as their learners, and this is an area untapped for many years – with teachers being told that it was almost a sin to use the students’ L1 in class. The ideas given in this book are not only effective language development tasks, but I know that the teens I have taught over the years would be very motivated by them, especially those that involve using television and film clips in class.

The second section of the book focuses on language development and practice tasks. There are many practical activities suggested which require little or no preparation or materials, and teachers will greatly appreciate these. I did think that, in some cases, there could have been more detailed explanation of how the activities are set up and run in the classroom – to help less experienced teachers, or even those of us with many years’ experience in the classroom who are new to that particular activity. But I believe this is a by-product of having such an ambitious aim: 500 ideas, rather than 50 more thoroughly-explained tasks.

Another helpful aspect of this book is the links to websites, online videos and books where teachers can get more support and background information, if they are hooked on the ideas they read about. The book is also dotted with quotes from teachers around the world with their tips or insights on teaching teenagers, which I enjoyed reading and which support the techniques presented in the book.

One marvellous section is the guide to using the book itself. 500 ideas could be about 490 too many for some teachers to take on board at once. This pragmatic guide to how to approach the plethora of ideas will be well appreciated.

I shall be using this book to find more ideas for my classroom teaching of teens as well as young adults, and I will definitely be recommending it to the teachers I train worldwide, who are keen for such practical, uncomplicated ideas to make their lessons engaging and motivating for teenage learners. I shall also be using and recommending the linked website, which has more ideas and articles for teachers:

Olha Madylus
London, England