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How to Teach Adults?? 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:08 am
Posts: 5
Post How to Teach Adults??
i have a problem.. a 30 year old guy wants me to teach him english..
how to do that??

Can you give me any tips??


Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:05 am
Profile YIM

Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:02 am
Posts: 6
Post teaching an adult English's kind of a big question...

General advice: Move through a structured approach, teach words with hearing/speaking first (emphasizing correct pronunciation), and get the student to do most of the work and not be passive. You only provide a model for pronunciation and keep him on track when his mistakes are serious. Wait patiently if he's in the middle of figuring something out--this gives him time to understand new information, and also shows your confidence in his ability.

One tip is that you find a way to keep him from thinking that he's wasting time when you're repeating things. I find that adults often assume that 'childish' learning is beneath them, and to think that they only need you to tell them a word (or just write it!) for them to 'have' it. So you may have to try some 'tricks', such as these:
* repeat using a variety of activities
* if your student thinks that something is too easy, try testing him on the subject first to demonstrate his need to know--then, test him the same way again after teaching, and he will understand that it helped
* I prefer emphasizing the SV~. and (Q)VS~? structures from the start, because they're so important for English. This may not be necessary--it depends on the structure of his native language.
* instead of just words, use different senses - for example, use flash cards (this site has many that you can download), real objects (if you have them), and sounds
* information gap exercises are useful if they are right for the level, grammar, and vocabulary you're teaching; I like them because they can create a real interest and a need to exchange information.

Sorry to be vague, but your question is a big one.

Sun Oct 21, 2007 9:55 am

Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 10
Location: Mexico, D.F.
Post private adult student
What is your student's level and purpose for learning English?

I have taught several adults who wanted to learn/practice English because they need it for work purposes. So you can have them describe their work situation, role play situations in which they need English, etc.

Listen intently and critically to how the speak freely. Use the grammar mistakes that they make as your next lesson.

Have him/her tell you a story and try to write down everything she/he says exactly how it is said. Then, give your students the paper and ask her/him to make corrections (or make corrections together).

Bring in a newspaper article (if their English is sufficient to read a newspaper, if not you can summarize and article with language and grammar that they do understand). Read it yourself, think of questions to talk about (both directly from the article, but also related to the article), and pick out vocabulary that you think might be difficult. Have the student read the article and underline vocabulary and/or grammar structures that (s)he doesn't understand. Go over vocabulary and grammar that your student doesn't understand and talk about the article. (I used this general plan with a business English student whose level of English was very high and who used English every day at work. He wanted to improve on specific errors and vocabulary, so I choose specific words in the article and asked him for synonyms of that word).

There is an incredible list of conversation questions at that can be used in conjunction with specific grammar points to review the grammar.

If you can give your student homework, ask him/her to prepare something to talk about for the beginning of each class, her/his day, a funny story, something about his/her family, a news article that your student read in their native language, etc. Prepare can mean just thinking through what they want to say and practicing saying it in their heads, looking up vocabulary that they might need or writing it down. (This is how I learned Japanese :D)

Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:38 am

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
Another talking point is asking about their high point and low point for the week. Begins a discussion and can last for quite a while, if discussion is what the student(s) wants.

Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:16 pm

Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:06 am
Posts: 2
Post Re: How to Teach Adults??
edd wrote:
i have a problem.. a 30 year old guy wants me to teach him english..
how to do that??

Can you give me any tips??

The same thing is happening to me. I teach English in Venezuela to elementary level kids, and a couple of parents have asked me if I could teach them too... I´m not sure I can do that. I only have experience teaching kids. What should I do?

Teaching English at Open English

Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:16 am

Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
Posts: 128
Location: Italy
The social dynamic when teaching adults is obviously a lot more complex than it is teaching kids, and that can make teaching adults harder work.

But it's just as much the adult student's responsibility to make that dynamic work as it is yours. If the lessons go well, they can be a really positive experience for both student and teacher. If they don't go so well, it can be just because you and the student(s) simply haven't connected on a personal level. That's not necessarily anybody's fault.

I believe the best strategy before the lessons start is not to have a strategy. Think of the first lesson as principally a meeting to work out what the student wants from you.

My advice is relax, be yourself, trust in your own skills and judgment to give the student(s) what they want, and don't beat yourself up it it doesn't go as well as it might done.


Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:45 am
Profile WWW

Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:24 pm
Posts: 6
There don't seem to be many books out there dealing with private teaching. Two older books are certainly worth looking at. I'm fortunate that I have an excellent ESL library in my town, so have access to good materials.

Murphey 1991 Teaching One to One - This has lots of great practical advice and ideas

Wilberg 1987 One to One - This is more of a motivational type of book. I've always thought that one to one teaching was a bit boring, but this author motivated me to consider trying it out again if the opportunity arises.

Tue Dec 09, 2008 11:43 am

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm
Posts: 191
Location: South Korea
If you find the one-onone kind of boring you could also see if he has a friend that wnats to learn and then you can help them through conversations, and other activites.

Also have him come into oyur nice Esl librabry and pick out a book together.

If his level is not absolute beginner you could do things around town. In Seoul I used to meet students nad we would do normal things like go to coffee shop, go shopping, visit a museum, etc and have lessons while we did these things.

Dare to dream. Dance through life!

Tue Dec 09, 2008 1:22 pm

Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2008 9:26 am
Posts: 30
Location: Tokyo
As everyone already said above. I tend to keep lesson plans vague and work to the mood/ topics of the student. I know where we are and what flashcards/ games I’ll / text’s I’ll be using, but that’s about it. Really my lessons for adults and kids aren’t so different – just the psychology is different. Games aren’t games – they’re “learning activities”; topics are about the news, not comic books (well, in theory anyway! :) ).

Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:00 am
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Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:55 pm
Posts: 29
If you are able to talk easily with your students sometimes it is best to ask them what their specific goals are for learning. Is it TOEIC or some other kind of test? Do they need to travel? Do they need English for business or to just make friends? Sometimes you can get enough cues from the student who can advise you best how to teach them. Different adults will probably have different needs. Follow their lead..

Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:22 pm
Here are the tips for teaching adult.
When teaching older learners, there are many important factors to consider. There are some fundamental differences between adult education and younger learners and these need to be explored before a teacher or tutor can successfully deliver a course of any type.
Adult education, by and large, involves a bigger commitment from learners. They are not part of the school system and the compulsory aspect has long since disappeared, giving a different perspective on learning.if your student thinks that something is too easy, try testing him on the subject first to demonstrate his need to know--then, test him the same way again after teaching, and he will understand that it helped.

Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:21 pm
Hi Edd,
It's been a long time you have not posted any comment. You might have find out the way to teach English to a guy who is of 30. One of my lady friend was a teacher and if needed she could help you. It seems that from a long time you are not seen, so you are not in need of it. Anyway thanks. Cheers.

Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:32 pm

Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:27 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Japan
Unlike children who will find almost anything interesting if it is presented to them in a fun and interesting manner, adults have built up lots of preconceptions not only about the world around them, but the teaching process specifically.
The trick is to play to those preconceptions so that they are learning in an environment that they find comfortable (kids are more ready to adapt to whatever you throw at them... as long as it isn't boring... something a lot of adults can put up with if it is what they expect to do as a learner)
Of course the level of the student is important, but adults can usually get to a semi-communicative level quickly. I am more willing to use L1 with older students than with kids as it can aid in creating a comfort level that you can't get by using more immature games and songs (great for kids). The trick is to figure out what to talk about...
I recommend finding out what the interests of the adult are and trying to create a conversation/lesson plan around those topics. Getting the adults to talk about themselves is frequently helpful, as they are typically more comfortable with doing this than younger students. Most activities/hobbies/interests can have a lot of potential for L2, and it will be easier for them to understand new concepts due to a working knowledge and desire to discuss the topic. The advantage with adults is a greater working knowledge of the world around them and more ingrained opinions... as long as you use them to your advantage.
This is more or less conversation specific, as adults are more readily accepting of book-work as a learning tool and can associate with it more readily than young learners.

Patience and perseverance are the greatest tools a teacher can offer.

Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:35 pm
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