Teaching Adults: They Know More Than They Tell

Teaching Adults
They Know More Than They Tell

Andrei Zakhareuski
by Andrei Zakhareuski 17,144 views |

Most people within the ESL industry will know that there is a huge difference between teaching adults and teaching children.

It has been proven that children’s minds tend to be more “elastic” in the sense that they can be shaped and moulded quite easily. With this in mind, a lot of teachers use this to their advantage to help the children absorb the language more. Generally, children will pick up language naturally much faster than adults. This isn’t to say, however, that adults aren’t capable of learning either. Many have already been in school and had a go at learning a second language before, so they may be using their own internal methods in order to commit the variety of grammatical rules to memory.

How to Teach Adults: Important Things To Keep in Mind

  1. 1

    Adult Education: A Daunting Experience

    For a lot of adults, the idea of returning to education can a be somewhat daunting one. A lot of the time, they may not have been in school for a number of years and are now unsure of classroom protocol. Doing tests might worry them just as much as any teenager might be worried about the idea of sitting down to an exam. It is important always to be friendly and smile, let them know that this is nothing to be afraid of. No matter what one is learning, if one is a beginner then there is no shame in making mistakes. Whilst some people will embrace learning the new language fervently, a great deal might find themselves intimidated and simply sit in the class and not contribute.

  2. 2

    Contribution and It’s Importance

    It is important for every student to participate in a class, and this couldn’t be more true with regards to language learning. Language isn’t something like history which can be committed to memory through rote learning. Yes, phrases, sentences and words and even grammatical structures can be memorized but they also need to be practised. The old saying “practise makes perfect” holds very true in this regard. People need to learn to get out of their comfort zone and try out new things. One of the best ways of getting people to participate is to design a game or a role play scenario whereby everyone has a line or a piece to say. Not only will this bring them “out of their shell”, so to speak, but it will also help that individual to learn that others might be in the same situation as themselves.

  3. 3

    Eliciting Words

    Most of us who have gone through teacher training sessions will understand the importance of eliciting words. For those students who have been learning the language for a long time now, they will find that they do indeed know quite a good bit of vocabulary. The trick is trying to get them to reveal this to the rest of the class. Eliciting words is essentially getting them to think of the specific word themselves, rather than the teacher simply writing it down on the board. Doing this will get the mind working, and allow the wheels in their head to start turning. Simply writing a word on the board and having them copy it down won’t allow it to stick. In thinking it up for themselves, it will challenge them to pursue their own knowledge further.

  4. 4

    Experience

    One of the major points about teaching adults is that they have a huge amount of experience within their specific fields of work or life. As such, they have picked up a lot along the way and those who have been in education for much longer will have a huge amount of experience within the sector. The teacher should then use this to their advantage. A good idea might be to organize a class where different learning methods are discussed, and questions asked about which ones work best for some people. This can also be a good way of finding out what the needs of one’s students are. Furthermore, those who may even be teachers themselves will be able to share their own insight and knowledge.

  5. 5

    Don’t Underestimate

    It is important for a teacher as well not to underestimate their students. Adults might have already picked up some words and phrases in English from previous experience, this mainly being due to it being one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world at the moment. Keep in mind that one’s students will always have prior learning experience, and this can be a great help to any teacher.

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