Teach English to Kids or Adults

Teach English to Kids or Adults

Is it better to teach English to adults or youngsters?


You’ve just got your TESOL qualification and you’re starting looking for TESOL jobs. You are looking at two posts that have similar levels of pay and conditions. Do you choose the language school asking for a teacher for 3-15 year olds? Or, do you apply for the post seeking a teacher for conversational and business English to adults? 

Deciding which age group you prefer to teach will largely be down to you and your preferences. If you’ve no experience of either, this article might help you to decide what’s best for you.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each group, starting with young learners.

  • Teaching young learners: potential primary level issues
    Negatives: low level English, poor concentration, large classes
    Positives: usually receptive, lots of songs, games, fun classes, teachers respected, can learn quickly, eagerness to use new language
  • Teaching young learners: potential teenage issues
    Negatives: tired after a full day at school, potentially disruptive and disengaged
    Positives: sometimes learning for exams and so can be focussed, can be responsive to current and topical themes, interest in English music & culture, can learn quickly and progress can be satisfying
  • Teaching adults: potential issues
    Negatives: often don’t learn quickly, lesson cancellation as life gets in way, not as fun material as teaching young learners and lack of classroom buzz
    Positives: often motivated, develop rapport in small groups or 1-1, interesting discussions, interest in exchanging ideas about cultures etc., opportunities to specialise in business English areas, increased earning potential


Do keep in mind that many institutes worldwide teach both adults and youngsters, so you might need to up your game if you choose to focus on solely teaching one or the other. But if adults is definitely the way to go for you, discover more about what teaching business English involves and consider taking a short course specialising in Teaching Business English to really add value to your CV.

Yet, if you think you’d prefer youngsters, but facing classes of loud teenagers seems scary, don’t let that put you off. Have a go. You’ll have something to add to your CV, widen your appeal to employers afterwards and who knows, you might actually love it.  Do some homework: look up some materials for your target age group such as those from OnestopEnglish and consider taking a Teaching English to Young Learners specialist course to add value to your skill set.

The great news about a TESOL qualification is that it opens doors worldwide and allows you to teach a range of student ages and stages.

So choose what you feel most comfortable with and pick up a specialist course to give you that extra edge. Whatever age-group you decide to focus on in the end, a flexible approach on your journey is bound to make you a more responsive and skilled teacher.

Which do you prefer? Leave your thoughts below on whether you enjoy classes of youngsters or conversation with adults best. We'd love to read your ideas. 

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