“I want to talk too!”—What do adult learners expect?

                                              Adults Love to Learn Too!

                                                        –Written by Devan Ogburn          

 

Teaching adults is a little different from teaching children, but they all want to learn! There are a few expectations that adults have when in a classroom. Here’s what you should remember:

Maintain a Structure

Adults aren’t like children, so they may not need the same type of games or activities to learn the content you are presenting. However, having a general order or structure to your lesson can keep you and them on track. Starting with a warm-up, then new information, including practice and a check for understanding, then finishing with an open activity is simple yet advanced enough for adult learners to follow. Sometimes games can make them feel childish, but an interactive activity to facilitate practice when speaking is still encouraged and enjoyed by adult learners.

Know your Lesson

Adult learners expect to be taught by an expert or has strong content knowledge, so make sure you know your lesson. Look at your content ahead of time and think of questions your adult students may have. Consider the level taught and what experiences an adult may have that you can incorporate into discussion. Asking about favorite school topics wouldn’t work in this group, so asking about their hobbies or activities outside of work may be a better option. If you know ahead of time what subject you will be discussing, you can plan out how to best guide and time your session with your students.

Keep it Light!

Show a lighter side. It’s good to create a welcoming space for your students to be vulnerable learn. Feel free to keep things light and fun. Leave room for your students to make mistakes and feel comfortable to grow. Having a laugh can ease the tension of learning with another or several other adults.

Those are some major points to keep in mind, but let’s hear from some adults themselves about what they expect in their sessions.

 

“I’m comfortable talking and have strong speaking skills, but I also like to be told if I’m doing well. Just because I am not struggling with reading doesn’t mean I don’t need feedback. I appreciate being challenged even if it’s just through discussion.”

                                              

 

“I want to talk too! Please make sure we all get a chance to speak or practice. There may be several of us, but there should be enough time for everyone to get their turn.”

 

 

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a classroom, so a quick reminder of how things work is ok. Whether it’s respecting my fellow classmates when they speak, or staying focused during the lesson. I’m here to learn just like your younger students.”

 

                                                       

 

“Connecting lessons to my everyday life is really helpful, so ask me questions that would help me use the language every day.”

 

 

 

“I am an adult but my proficiency is at a beginner, so speaking slowly is essential. I may need content explained more than once since I’ve been speaking my first language for so long and this is new. Just be patient and I’ll understand.”

 

 

What are some of your teaching experiences and opinions? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

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Farzin Mavani
Consultant
Farzin Mavani

Love this – I know a lot of consultants join iTutorGroup just for the juniors, but this really highlights how much of an impact we can make helping adults too!

Lisa Q
Consultant
Lisa Q

So true!! ^_^

Farzin Mavani
Consultant
Farzin Mavani

Thank you Miss Lisa 🙂

Melinda Yolai
Consultant
Melinda Yolai

Yes! Learning English is a valuable skill at any age, and being able to contribute to the teaching of it is an opportunity not many people can say they get.

Farzin Mavani
Consultant
Farzin Mavani

Completely agree! We are making a difference in the world 🙂

Iuliaa So
Consultant
Iuliaa So

YES!!! I love teaching adults, probably even more than kids!!!!

Farzin Mavani
Consultant
Farzin Mavani

Haha wow, loving the enthusiasm Iuliaa! 🙂

Larry Li
Consultant
Larry Li

Dear Farzin, congratulations on winning a $10 prize. We will contact you via email, please keep an eye on your mailbox 🙂

Farzin Mavani
Consultant
Farzin Mavani

Thank you so much!! I’ll wait for the email 🙂

Sarah
Consultant
Sarah

This is really valuable and helpful! Sometimes I like to ask my adult student directly why they are studying this language, so that I can tailor material to their interests, needs and levels. For example, if their goal is to be able to talk to others when travelling, I make sure to have loads of casual, free talking activities or if their goal is to use it to express their opinions in their job, I make sure to hone in on good vocabulary and grammar.

Rachel Pratley
Consultant
Rachel Pratley

Absolutely!

Yinyi Huang
Consultant
Yinyi Huang

Did they ever tell you “Because I met a super salesperson” when you asked them why you wanted to learn English?

Keith Churulich
Consultant
Keith Churulich

Yes, I agree with these comments, too. One of the things I like to do if there are men/women in the class is ask them, “Do you agree with “John” or “Nancy” ?
I think it’s fun to joke with them about dating/members of the opposite sex if the lesson is about that subject.

kenneth Shaw
Consultant
kenneth Shaw

I have taught Adults now with TutorABC for two years now and the start of the lesson is the most important. There you can gauge how energetic, empathic and interesting they are. I like to also deviate from the lesson plan with discussion about lifestyles, art, poetry and essential English reading. At the end it always good to challenge the adult learner with an interesting quote like: ‘Mirrors should think longer before they reflect.’ (Jean Cocteau). Variety and the ‘what is life?’ works with some adults who are keen to expand their English whilst discussion of Art and poetry is… Read more »

KUOHAO LAN
Consultant
KUOHAO LAN

Wow! That’s true! laughter is the best material in the classroom!

Marguerite Snyman
Consultant
Marguerite Snyman

Agreed! How do you bring laughter into the classroom?

Seid
Consultant
Seid

The best jokes are always about the differences between men and women. If the level is above 5, you can ask men,, why do men love football, it’s a stupid game, 22 people are just trying to get the ball for 90min,, or if you have both genders in your class, you can ask them how many pairs of shoes do they have, why do women love shoes, why do women love shopping, why do men hate shopping, and then say something like,, women love shoes and bags and men love cars and, and, and ?????? you let them guess,… Read more »

Sara Fernandes
Consultant
Sara Fernandes

Thank you very much for all the good information. I totally agree with these tips. When we show our students we really want to know them and help them, they can show us some love, too.

Roxanne Picher
✨Contributor
Roxanne Picher

Great tips here! I enjoyed it!

Yinyi Huang
Consultant
Yinyi Huang

These are precious opinions. They are really helpful. I can understand what the adults expect just like the young learners need. The consultants’ live training and the training portal 2.0 ppt also mentioned these points. Very impressive.

Marguerite Snyman
Consultant
Marguerite Snyman

Thank-you for this blog post Devan! It is so insightful. I have recently joined iTutor and have only taught to adults so far. I find doing a light hearted game with the vocabulary words from the lesson helps to set a more relaxed learning atmosphere. I use quick games such as the action and mouthing game. Anyone else got some games for adults they would like to share? 😊

Michelle
Consultant
Michelle

Hi what is the action and mouthing game?

Marguerite Snyman
Consultant
Marguerite Snyman

Hi Michelle!
So the action game is charades using the vocabulary words and the mouthing game is when you mouth the vocabulary words to the camera and the students guesses what word you are mouthing out. The mouthing game usually makes the students laugh! Hope this helps you out. Do you have any games?

Michelle
Consultant
Michelle

Hi thank you I have covered up the words and used the polls for students to vote on the word from the definition and had them put them in alphabetical order in a race, got them to make a silly sentence any more ideas?

Ariston LIang
Consultant
Ariston LIang

Make sure what adult students want and always be patient and smile to them. Just like talking to friends and I know we all can do that. ^O^

Michelle Brindle
✨Contributor
Michelle Brindle

Thanks for the great tips Devan- it’s refreshing to think about the adult viewpoints coming into a lesson.

Jennifer Windham
Consultant
Jennifer Windham

Thank you! I am new to ESL teaching and I live this blog. Great explanations. I am learning the linier approach to tutoring!!! Thanks iTutor for giving me a chance🥰🥰

Jennifer Windham
Consultant
Jennifer Windham

What teaching tips do you teachers have for me?! #iwanttoget10slikeyou🥰

Rachel Pratley
Consultant
Rachel Pratley

Thanks for the useful reminders I love the quotes from adult learners – so relevant. A very important tip is never to talk down to adults (to any students for that matter). They bring so much world knowledge and many skills to the class, but depending on the level may not be able to express themselves. Constant encouragement is a must! Thanks again!😀Actually I will add that I LOVE working with and training adults I wish we were better compensated for it as it’s a huge market and requires very different skills. Enjoy your teaching everyone!

Michelle de Bruyn
Consultant
Michelle de Bruyn

Adult classes are my favorite. The interaction and respect amongst the adults is encouraging. Adults thrive on the positive encouragement and praise and you can instantly see their appreciation and willingness to participate and speak more.

Lana Murphy
Consultant
Lana Murphy

This is great advice. Adults need to be treated differently to children obviously but being relaxed and having a sense of humor work for any age group. Also it’s easy to forget to praise adults, but all of us like to know when we’ve done something well. Also, I love to hear what the students want, because we don’t always get that in the feedback after the lesson. Awesome reminder, thanks.

Herschel Thach
Consultant
Herschel Thach

I love working with adults! I always add a blank slide behind the title slide before class and insert the following text: “Along with reading the words that are in the lesson we will have discussions in English about many things. This is to help build your conversational English abilities. ” I then explain that I want us to have conversations, and not just read the material. I also explain that do to the nature of conversations we may or may not talk about things that relate to the lesson. I just want them to get used to speaking in… Read more »

Sharmaine Calimlim
Consultant
Sharmaine Calimlim

I’ve been teaching adults since I started with iTG 2 months ago. It is very interesting and super fun. Having conversations are very easy especially with high level adult student. You can also have some topics relating to your lesson and have fun about it or joke about it. I always make my adult students interact with each other like when we do discussions with high level students, we do some form of debates or discussion about their ideas or opinions. And they like it.

Kenneth Shaw
Consultant
Kenneth Shaw

Hi all I have been with TutorABC for two years now and teach only adults. When going through vocabulary I like to point out the roots of all English words whi h come from French Italian Greek and Roman (Latin). Since I studied Latin and Greek and speak French.. I think this helps the student understand English words better plus I try to get them to use them in a sentence. For reading to improve their English.. I always suggest Oscar Wilde, the First World War Poets 1914-1918 and of course the American poet Allan Ginsberg.. Hopefully this will encourage… Read more »

Michelle Brindle
✨Contributor
Michelle Brindle

Thanks for the great tips- it’s refreshing to think about the adults viewpoints.

princess haak
Consultant
princess haak

I enjoy teaching adults because I am like talking to a friend.

Vilma
Consultant
Vilma

I really like helping adults, I feel the urgency and importance of nurturing them because in real life, they are the most effective teachers our juniors at home could ever had. So they must be empowered to prepare them to teach kids at home.

Nicola Pronk
Consultant
Nicola Pronk

It’s nice to get the perspective of the adult students! Thank you for the advice!

Tabita Todea
Consultant
Tabita Todea

Making adults feel relaxed is also a good way to have happy students. Making sure you say some jokes or just lighten up their day with some funny stories would make such a big difference. If students are entertained, they are happy to come back.

Varvara Abramova
Consultant
Varvara Abramova

Some time ago I realized that I really love to teach adults because each and every class with adults I learn something new from my students. It’s precious!

Adam Dannreuther
Consultant
Adam Dannreuther

I really appreciated hearing comments from students themselves – this was great to see

Jannatul Ferdous Chowdhury
Consultant
Jannatul Ferdous Chowdhury

#fewspeaking#opportunities Even if you give equal time, there may be someone still not satisfied. To avoid this complain write speaking time for each student while you ask questions. Write their names with speaking duration. When they see their names and equal time, there is hardly any opportunity to get the red tag few speaking opportunity. According to the level of the learner offer assistance. Correct instantly and write the corrected sentence for them. It greatly helps. Happy teaching!

Neggie
Consultant
Neggie

I’m loving the structure shown here!

Delilah A. Castro
Consultant
Delilah A. Castro

Usually when i’m going to teach i divide the time by the slides, then i look at how many students i will have and make sure each has equal reading, participating and speaking time, i kindly interrupt by saying well done that’s a great answer so all others can talk to i call them by name, if anyone talks over the other i usually at the beginning of the lesson i advice to wait until that person finishes, unless i ask for a s group participation , usually a game.

anne van ingen
Consultant
anne van ingen

I really like teaching adults. Many times we have really interesting discussions and everyone learns from that, even me! I try to keep the discussions light and try to get them to laugh too. That really breaks the ice.

Jona
Consultant
Jona

Thank you for this reminder…I read a quote today about teachers. It says ” The greatest teachers are those who are more patient and most kind.” EGW.

Stephanie Murray
Consultant
Stephanie Murray

Thank you for this great discussion. Definitely some awesome tips to use here!

Phyllis Annon Boucher
Consultant
Phyllis Annon Boucher

Great tips, I love teaching adults and I definitely agree with what you’ve said we must be patient and engage them in a friendly manner. This helps with opening up and enjoying the lesson.

Colette
Consultant
Colette

Thank you for sharing I appreciate it. Is there an article or blog about the different games to play with adult students.

Yinyi Huang
Consultant
Yinyi Huang

We can have some games like tongues twisters, guessing games, pictures descriptions, and make sure the games are related to the topic and content we are going to teach. It’s better to let them know the games are related to what they are going to learn. : )

Silke
Consultant
Silke

I find the tip about reminding them how things work interesting, because I never even thought about that one. Thank you! 🙂

Mercy Rivera
Consultant
Mercy Rivera

Thank you Devan for these helpful tips and amazing facts. As teachers we need to remember that children and adult learners are alike. They come to class TO LEARN AND TO HAVE FUN. Also, with the adult learners, make sure that our CLASS IS WORTH THEIR TIME. Consider that they usually come from work and are tired. It is also vital to KNOW WHY THEY WANT TO LEARN ENGLISH. REMEMBER this ALWAYS: LEARNING and FUN work TOGETHER.

Elvis Tejada
Consultant
Elvis Tejada

Great points. Even though it’s easier to keep an adult interested during class, we still need to make sure to bring current topics to the table and add extra vocabulary that will help them express new ideas even beyond their level.

Keishla Calvo
Consultant
Keishla Calvo

Thank you for the useful information iTutorGroup! In my experience, I have learned a lot from my students and their culture when they share how business is done in their countries. I love teaching lessons focused on business English because it welcomes a conversation surrounding the topics of globalization. I love the fact that being an ESL teacher let’s us be immersed in a mutual learning environment.

Monik
Consultant
Monik

Thanks for the advice! 🙂

Barbara Gale Merrill
Consultant
Barbara Gale Merrill

I completely agree! This is a great blog. Unfortunately the lesson material sometimes prohibits discussions. If the lesson has many pages with massive amounts of information to read, then the time is consumed with reading instead of discussions. And there are lessons without even one question that facilitates discussions. Yes. We as teachers need to preview the lesson and can come up with ideas to get around the defects in the lesson. But it would be so much nicer if we didn’t have to do that. Adult students need and want to speak more. The lesson materials should help us… Read more »

Wang, Dephy
Trainer
Wang, Dephy

So true, we’ve reported your concern to material team, they would do some modifications in the near future, looking forward to the updates!

Eldridge Curiel
Consultant
Eldridge Curiel

this is so true! I’ve also realized that you shouldn’t be very strict, relax a little and make some jokes from time to time.

Bob K
Consultant
Bob K

Teaching adults requires engagement, discussion, practice, and time management. Unfortunately, you may get some complaints about not giving equal speaking opportunities from adults that found it difficult to speak when it is their turn to speak. In a session where adults are more than three, we have to encourage the low-level speaker(s) by asking for further details to any question to support them to speak much more. Otherwise, some may complain that you did not give them equal opportunities to talk in the session.

Nico Kruger
Consultant
Nico Kruger

It is very important to develop a rapport with your students. If you can laugh together, then you have won half the battle!

Kimseyla Chek (Seyla)
Consultant
Kimseyla Chek (Seyla)

Hello! I think with adults in a group setting is “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” I think quickly evaluating your adult students as best as possible and having the flexibility in the way you present and conduct your lesson is critical. Furthermore, by being prepared before the lesson and knowing each students name is very important so when I address each student by their name, they feel that I know them and hopefully it makes them feel important and comfortable. To do this, I write down an outline of the lesson and all… Read more »

Neetika
Consultant
Neetika

I have taught many adults and definitely love working with them, they like to communicate and express their thoughts and feelings specially if they have teens at home ,they can connect with others in the room and with the consultant by listening to the same experiences what they are going through. Also they like to talk about when consultant gives examples for cooking, cleaning , shopping etc.

Javier Rosado
Consultant
Javier Rosado

it is great that you provide guidance for adults since most videos are for children only !

Marjorie Manoben
Consultant
Marjorie Manoben

That’s why I like teaching adults. The connection between life and practical lessons are readily welcome by them. It’s really not hard teaching them when we take a little personal interest, even in a limited time. Teaching both kids and adults are amazing though. 😃

Elvis Tejada
Consultant
Elvis Tejada

Great tips. definately useful in class

Theona Naicker
Consultant
Theona Naicker

Excellent! What works for my adult classes is being well prepared and making time for an engaging discussion . My adult students appreciate correction and humor in classes.

Carol
Consultant
Carol

Thank you, I love teaching adults as well as children 😊