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General peculiaties of teenagers and the ways of teaching them

Human development as “person” occurs in the general context of his/her “course of life” which is defined as “the development of a person in a certain society, the development of a person as a contemporary of a certain epoch” (3, 135).

In general, person development as a process of “socialization of the individual” is carried out in certain social conditions of his/ her family, the nearest environment, in certain sociopolitical, economic conditions of the region, country, and national traditions of the nation whose representative he/ she is.

The social situation as a condition of development and life in adolescence essentially differs from a social situation in the childhood, not so much on the external circumstances, much for the internal reasons. The teenager continues to live in a family, to study, he/ she is surrounded generally by the same contemporaries. Today, when there is a tendency in the so-called developed countries to transformation into a consumer society, consumer appetites of teenagers inexpressibly increase.

Now more and more attention is given to learning of foreign languages. It is, on the one hand, due to the social order because social contacts have recently sprung up more and more. But, on the other hand, learning of a foreign language is the cause of great difficulties linked with language material mastering. That’s why, foreign languages teachers should give more attention to teaching material mastering, and the organization form in which the mastering and formation of the person of the teenager is given.

For example, independent work is one of the effective forms of the educational activity organization. It has a great educational influence on the person, first of all, for diligence formation.

The teenage age is a period of human life from the childhood till the youth in a traditional classification. In this shortest astronomical period a teenager passes a huge way in his/her development: through internal conflicts with himself/ herself and others, through external failures and ascensions he/she can find the feeling of a person.

The behavior during this period is defined by several factors: the puberty of a teenager and corresponding fast changes occurring in his/ her organism, a marginal social status of the teenager, and also his/her specific features generated. A teenager through his/her own spiritual unrest enriches the sphere of his/her feelings and thoughts, he/she passes difficult school of identification with himself/herself and others, for the first time seizing the experience of purposeful isolation. These help him to defend his/ her right to be a person.

The teenage age is a period when a teenager starts to appreciate the relations with the contemporaries. The aspiration to dialogue is characteristic for this age. It has received the name of a teenage reaction of grouping so much. The aspiration to be identified with similar ones is so valued requirement for universal culture for the friend. While continuous study the teenager spends the most part of time with the contemporaries. And the friendship gives a chance to learn other people and himself/ herself more deeply through confidential relations. The teenage age is an age when a teenager in a new fashion starts to estimate the relations with his/her family. Teenagers actually do not want full freedom, because they are still ready to have it, they just want to have the right to own choice, and responsibility for the words and acts (1, 355).

In the teenage age there is a further active development of the person, and we see that out of society it cannot develop.

According to the basic directions of person development of teenagers in the course of teaching a foreign language we can tell with confidence that person-focused approach in teaching a foreign language has direct influence on the person of the pupil. In the course of studying a foreign language the learner is in a certain social environment: he/ she constantly contacts with his/her teacher and with the schoolmates. Such influence forms his/ her ability to study and estimate the quality of other people. Ethical standards which the teacher and schoolmates use their sights, relation to study, purposefulness, mutual respect, tastes – all these are perceived by the learner as public norms acquired by him/her and will be included in his behavior structure.

The role-playing game also acts as means of person development of the teenager. It possesses the big training and bringing up possibilities. It can be considered as an exact model of a dialogue. It provides the development of educational cooperation and partnership (3, 134).

Independent work renders a great influence on the development of labor qualities and the development of strong-willed qualities.

Teens are often the hardest age group for teachers to cope with. Joanna Budden (she’s someone who has a lot of experience with teens) in her first resource book discusses the given topic and concluded “six things to bear in mind when teaching teens”.

  1. The Natural Information-Gap. One of the great things about teaching teenagers is that there’s little need for pre-fabricated ‘information gap’ activities as there’s normally a huge, natural information gap between the learners and the teacher. They may well know all about the latest music, technology, fashion trends and gadgets and the teacher may not! So, rather than ignoring this void between the learners and the teacher, it is useful for the teacher to exploit it to his/her advantage.
  2. They’re still young. Some learners who are now in their late teens can be very sophisticated, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that they are still young. So, to put things in perspective and to remind the teacher that they haven’t in fact been on this earth for all that long, it is recommended to remember “that they were only aged between five and ten when the Twin Towers were hit” (5, 53).
  3. Parents can be your allies! It’s sometimes easy to forget that the teenage students haven’t just arrived from another planet. When they rock into the classroom “with their i-pod blaring, their trousers hanging dangerously low down, designer pants on show and their fringe covering half their face, it’s tempting to wonder if their space ship is parked outside” (5, 56). But no, more often than not the teenage students have parents who care about them greatly and are often investing a lot of money for their child to learn English. Therefore, if problems do occur with certain students in the class, she recommends not hesitating to get in contact with their parents. They can often shed light on the concerning issues and it’s usually useful to have the parents’ support with any challenging students.
  4. Students have lives outside the classroom. Obviously all students have ‘real lives’ that go on outside the classroom whatever their age. However for adults it’s somehow easier for them to ‘park’ their real lives outside the door for an hour or two when they come into class. Teenagers often bring with them all their baggage from a tricky day at school and this may affect their behavior in the class. If they’ve just got a text message from an admirer or if they’ve failed an exam that day and have yet to tell their parents, it may be difficult for them to give your class 100% attention, or even 10%. Finding out about how the students’ week is going before the teacher starts the class is one way to give the students a chance to show why they may not be the model student on that particular day. Here’s a link to an activity called the Happy Graph which gives the teacher the chance for the students to do this. It can really give an insight into the emotional rollercoaster that is teenage life.
  5. Knowing what your students are into helps. This may sound very obvious, but it’s even more important with teens than with any other age group to know as much as possible about each and every student in class. By knowing what they do in their free time, who’s into computer games, who loves Formula 1 and who is going on a foreign exchange the teacher will be able to tap into the students’ passions and interests in the class. Also, the better the teacher knows the students, and they know each other, the better the dynamics of the classroom will be. The five minutes at the beginning when students are arriving is vital time to chat to the students and to let them chat to each other (in English if possible) to find out what’s going on in their lives. She recommends to make sure students feel comfortable asking questions too, obviously it’s up to each teacher how much of their ‘real life’ they want to share with their students but generally a positive learning environment is created from an open classroom atmosphere where the teacher is genuinely interested in their students.
  6. There are lots of ‘techie teens’ out there. Technology is inevitably a big part of the teenage students’ lives. Students probably spend a large part of their day plugged into their mp3 player, using Messenger, Facebook, sending text messages, playing games or downloading music. They have grown up surrounded with technology so it is helpful to use this fact to teacher’s advantage. Creating a class blog or wiki, asking students to e-mail the teacher their homework or asking them for help out when the class computer or IWB goes wrong are all ways of using their technological knowledge to the benefit!

It is necessary to learn general peculiarities of the young learners and adult learners. Acquiring English as a foreign language is a complex learning process, comprising various and numerous mental processes and activities, such as: learning new information itself, memorization, recognition (identifying) the learnt material, its application, etc. Each of these in their turn represents the combination of both physical and mental skills and actions, dependant on such characteristics as age, intellectual potential and general knowledge.

In the framework of learning English as a foreign language it is highly important that the assimilation of a new material is being based on the linguistic knowledge of the mother tongue itself. Thus, an efficient learning process is a conscious and comprehensible assimilation of a new material (and not just a mere mechanical learning), that is being “stocked “ in the memory; as this assimilating and memorizing process is being based on associating and comparing the language units and phenomena being learned with the similar ones of the mother tongue.

In case of a young learner, such associations are more “vivid and expressive” and his/her mind is “much catchier” both to the general and peculiar language units of the target language.

By the expression associations are more “vivid and expressive” and his/her mind is “much catchier” the following perception model is meant: “I hear/see/smell/touch/feel → I draw clear and vivid pictures representing it in my mind → I compare them to my mother tongue → I put them in my memory → I use them to talk about something/somebody.

For example, a young learner is prone to better assimilate such synonymous adjectives as fat/plump/stout etc.as while memorizing each of them he/she will stick to his “expressive” pictures, drawn in his mind and representing clearly each of the above mentioned adjectives. While an adult learner will refer all these adjectives to one general meaningful notion-“fat”, without paying too much attention to the subtle connotation differences, underlying them; which for a young learner will be quite distinctive and “colorful” (4, 29).

An adult learner will tend to concentrate more on the grammatical structure of the sentence, trying to make it correct and coherent from the grammatical point of view. Despite the acquired grammar patterns, he/she will try to add his/her own ones, which very often might result in an appropriate combination of such patterns from his/her native language.

A young learner, on the contrary, will stick to the “steady” grammar clichés, which will make his/her use of the language units grammatically more “strict” and thus, more correct. He/she will shift his focus from modifying grammar patterns to applying a richer vocabulary bulk.

Thus, assuming that the process of associations of a young learner is “stronger” or more profound and “colorful”, it is possible to claim that the process of the assimilating the foreign language itself will be more efficient and more natural. It will be “smoother” and faster not only due to the fact that a young learner turns to make more memorable associations, but because his reproductive skills are more developed that the ones of an adult learner. By reproductive skills, it is understood such actions and processes as voicing the assimilated units (the reproduction itself) and the physical capacity of correctly producing from the phonetic point of view the sounds of the target language.

Thus, not only the vocabulary bulk of a young learner will be richer and more “colorful”, the pronunciation will be also more “musical and lighter”, thus, being more natural and correct. While the pronunciation of an adult learner will tend very often to be “harder and more forced”, resembling to a great extent to the pronunciation of his mother tongue (as one of the numerous examples, the following “intricate” sounds “th”, “w”, “r” will be mispronounced by an adult learner, being very similar to the correspondent sounds from his native language).

Theories have been proposed for the best way to learn a second language in the classroom and teaching methods have been developed to implement them. But the only way to answer the question 'Which theoretical proposal holds the greatest promise for improving language learning in classroom settings?' is through research which specifically investigates relationships between teaching and learning.

Both formal and informal researches are needed. Formal research involves careful control of the factors which may affect learning. It often uses large numbers of teachers and learners in order to try to limit the possibility that the unusual behavior of one or two individuals might create a misleading impression about what one would expect in general. Researchers doing this kind of work must sometimes sacrifice naturalness in order to ensure that only those factors under investigation are different in the groups being compared.

Informal research often involves small numbers, perhaps only one class with one teacher, and the emphasis here is not on what is most general but rather on what is particular about this group or this teacher. While formal research may add strength to theoretical proposals, informal research, including that carried out by teachers in their own classrooms, is also essential. It is hardly necessary to tell experienced teachers that what 'works' in one context may fail in another.

There are five proposals relating to this issue, provide examples from classroom interaction to illustrate how the proposals get translated into classroom practice, and discuss how the findings from some of the formal research in SLA fit them. For each proposal, a few relevant studies will be presented, discussed, and compared with one another (2, 150). The labels we have given these proposals are:

  1. Get it right from the beginning;
  2. Say what you mean and mean what you say;
  3. Just listen;
  4. Teach what is teachable;
  5. Get it right in the end.

Classroom data from a number of studies offer support for the view that formfocused instruction and corrective feedback provided within the context of a communicative program are more effective in promoting second language learning than programs which are limited to an exclusive emphasis on accuracy on the one hand or an exclusive emphasis on fluency on the other. Thus, we would argue that second language teachers can (and should) provide guided, form-based instruction and correction in specific circumstances. For example, teachers should not hesitate to correct persistent errors which learners seem not to notice without focused attention. Teachers should be especially aware of errors that the majority of learners in a class are making when they share the same first language background. Nor should they hesitate to point out how a particular structure in a learner's first language differs from the target language. Teachers might also try to become more aware of those structures which they sense are just beginning to emerge in the second language development of their students and provide some guided instruction in the use of these forms at precisely that moment to see if any gains are made. It may be useful to encourage learners to take part in the process by creating activities which draw the learners' attention to forms they use in communicative practice, by developing contexts in which they can provide each other with feedback and by encouraging them to ask questions about language forms.

Decisions about when and how to provide form focus must take into account differences in learner characteristics, of course. Quite different approaches would be appropriate for, say, a trained linguist learning a fourth or fifth language, a young child beginning his or her schooling in a second language environment, an immigrant who cannot read and write his or her own language, and an adolescent learning a foreign language at school.

It could be argued that many teachers are quite aware of the need to balance formfocus and meaning-focus, and that recommendations based on research may simply mean that our research has confirmed current classroom practice. Although this may be true to some extent, it is hardly the case that all teachers approach their task with a clear sense of how best to accomplish their goal. It is not always easy to step back from familiar practices and say, 'I wonder if this is really the most effective way to go about this?' Furthermore, many teachers are reluctant to try out classroom practices which go against the prevailing trends among their colleagues or in their educational contexts, and there is no doubt that many teachers still work in environments where there is an emphasis on accuracy which virtually excludes spontaneous language use in the classroom. At the same time, there is evidence that the introduction of communicative language teaching methods has sometimes resulted in a complete rejection of attention to form and error correction in second language teaching.

Teachers and researchers do not face a choice between form-based and meaningbased instruction. Rather, our challenge is to determine which features of language will respond best to form-focused instruction, and which will be acquired without explicit focus if learners have adequate exposure to the language. In addition, we need to develop a better understanding of how form-based instruction can be most effectively incorporated into a communicative framework. Continued classroom-centered research in second language teaching and learning should provide us with insights into these and other important issues in second language learning in the classroom.

As a conclusion, it is though indispensable to point out that the above set forth assumptions are not to be regarded as ultimate ones, as there are such extra linguistic characteristics that influence greatly the learning process. The most outstanding of them are the following: personal motivation, personal language skills and learning potential, and the teacher’s professionalism of course. But in more general terms, a young learner is more prone to be a more efficient learner in the framework of learning English as a foreign language.

Foreign language makes huge impact on development of person at teenage age. And now it is possible to tell that optimum use of educational possibilities of process of foreign language learning – one of the most urgent problems of a technique. Main principle of foreign language learning is person-directed orientation (3, 138).

It is impossible to forget that game possesses big training and bringing up possibilities, the role-playing game provides development of educational cooperation and partnership. In our work we would like to notice the necessity of use of independent work at foreign language lessons as it has big educational influence on person, first of all, development of labor qualities.

The specificity of a foreign language is, on the one hand, mastering of speech activity, because it is rather complete intellectual process demanding from pupils mobilization of their attention, memory, purposefulness, will, on other hand – process of mastering of a foreign language which stimulates the further knowledge of the world and cultural wealth of the people of other countries, their psychology and way of life.



  1. Lightbown, P. M. 1992. “Can they do it themselves?” A comprehension-based ESL course for young children. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, pp. 353-370.
  2. Long, M. H., L. Adams, M. McLean, and F. Castanos. 1976. “Doing things with words—verbal interaction in lockstep and small group classroom situations”. Washington, D.C.: TESOL. pp. 137-153.
  3. Asher, J. 1972. “Children’s first language as a model for second language learning
  4. Krashen, S. 1982. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon.
  5. Budden J. 1999. “Teen World”. Cambridge University Press, 51-59.

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Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics.[

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