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TEFL Masterclass – Any Given Day – Switching Your Mindset From Juniors To Adult Teaching

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Suzanne Brown – Teacher Trainer & Managing Director @BLISS.

Suzanne Brown is an experienced International Director with a demonstrated history of working in the international education industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Training Needs Analysis, Training Delivery, Management, and Interviewing. Strong professional with a BA (Hons) focused in Marketing and communication from Glasgow Caledonian University.

What you will learn

Any teacher could be asked to switch from Junior classes and Adult classes, maybe just because that is how the schedule runs or in order to cover a colleague’s class. This Masterclass will look at both types of learners and how we as teachers can ensure we have the right mindset to approach both, and to analyse the tools we need to switch from one to the other.

We will examine the effects on the teacher and the class if we slip into the wrong mindset and the huge benefits we can have in the classroom, of getting it right.

By using the tools that we will examine in this Masterclass, we can make sure we get it right every time, creating the best learning environment for our students as well as building rapport and trust to ensure concrete steps are made.

Workshop Summary

Introduction and Overview

Suzanne Brown provides a masterclass titled ‘Any Given Day’, focusing on the differences between teaching junior and adult English learners. She discusses the learners’ characteristics, teaching methodologies, the significance of mindset in a classroom, and a secret tool for teachers.

Characteristics of Junior Learners

In the context of junior learners, they are driven by an inherent curiosity and tend to learn through interactive activities and observation. They possess a ‘growth mindset’, showcasing a continual desire for learning. These learners frequently use a ‘total physical response’ methodology, linking vocabulary or concepts with motion, and embark on emotional learning journeys.

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Adult learners, in contrast, are driven by diverse motivations, often related to job prospects or plans to move abroad. They are independent learners, using their life experiences to enhance classroom discussions. However, these experiences may also create learning barriers. These learners face unique challenges, often related to past experiences or personal situations, which necessitate a focus on adult-adult interactions to foster the right learning environment.

Barriers in Adult Learning

Adult learners can bring numerous barriers into the classroom, including social and cultural, personal and practical, emotional, and workplace barriers. These can originate from language differences, physical conditions, stress, or obligatory learning conditions imposed by employers. The goal of teaching should be to alleviate these barriers and create a conducive learning environment.

The Importance of the Right Mindset

The mindset of an educator plays a crucial role when switching between teaching juniors and adults. With juniors, the classroom should be engaging and vibrant, but with adults, learners should be treated as fellow adults. If the junior teaching style is imposed on an adult classroom, it could result in social and cultural barriers, and potentially breed a lack of confidence in the educator.

Transactional Analysis in the Classroom

Transactional analysis is a tool developed by Eric Berne to navigate classroom relationships. It categorises roles into three types: parent, adult, and child, with each role having positive or negative aspects. For effective teaching, understanding and appropriately harnessing these roles is key. The adult-to-adult mindset fosters trust, bolsters learning, and creates an environment conducive to risk-taking and open communication.


Teaching junior and adult learners requires distinct classroom approaches. Junior lessons can be creative, while adult classes need a more professional approach. Teachers need to use the appropriate tools, such as transactional analysis, to foster the right mindset and avoid erecting barriers that can hinder learning. The teacher’s role should be to smoothly navigate between roles to ensure fruitful interactions and significant growth in learners.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. Is the class lost if you start off in the wrong mindset?
  2. Are materials adaptable to both mindsets?
  3. What do students gain from having a teacher with the right mindset?
  4. Does one size fit all for either juniors or adults?

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