Professional Development

#tbt IATEFL 2016 #3: Fostering responsibility and response-ability in the teenage classroom

Herbert Puchta

In the third of a series of Throwback Thursday posts, we are sharing some of our favourite talks from IATFEL 2016.

In this talk, Herbert Puchta discusses ways to foster teenagers’ responsibility and self-esteem, through critical thinking and clarification of values. He looks at the importance of scaffolding language, so that learners can speak competently and confidently.

With a neurobiological focus, Herbert explains how the limbic system increasingly becomes the main player in the teenage brain, leading this age group to become prone to risk-taking and developing strong interests in novelty and interaction with peers.

During this time, Herbert emphasises that teachers must not just be language teachers but educators too, to help develop students into responsible citizens. He discusses some of the ways to go beyond teaching language, and how to understand and combat some of the challenges and issues that may be faced in the teenage classroom.

He stresses that what teenagers need to become responsible citizens is role models and guidance from adults, and identifies three key areas as to how teachers can do this:

  • Develop thinking skills from basic to critical – helping teens to think about real world issues, and to think beyond entertainment. Discuss issues with them that are real, to go beyond superficiality.
  • Foster exploration of values – getting teens to take on board values that are important in society to help them prepare and personalize their language
  • Help develop self-esteem – a lack of this can often lead to negative attitudes, so how teachers support this?


Herbert goes on to provide practical examples from THiNK as to how we can scaffold language and develop teenage students’ response-ability and responsibility.

Watch the full talk here:

Explore more of our IATEFL talks.

Share your ideas for a post below.
We're looking forward to hearing about it
and will be in touch once we've had a read.
0/5000 characters

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

We will take a read through your ideas and be in touch shortly.