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Teaching Adults 
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:27 pm
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Post Teaching Adults
Does anyone have any experience or advice teaching upper intermediate/advanced adults? I'm feeling completely lost with two classes of adults who for the most part have a higher level of English than the book they've been assigned. They all have rather solid grammar and vocabulary, and there seems to be very little new in each class. I'm trying to provide additional vocabulary in our brief conversations, but I'm worried that I'm boring them because I've never worked with adults at a fluency level.

It seems to me that adults at this level mostly just need massive vocabulary expansion and a lot of conversation practice. But I don't want to have a teacher centered classroom - I have 12 students, which is too much to give each one quality speaking opportunity. But at the same time, I don't want to to be an "activity administrator", pressing play on the listening activity, and telling them to move on to the next set of comprehension questions. Can someone describe the core of an adult TEFL classroom? At higher levels, what kinds of games can you use? They're beyond simply practicing grammar forms, as it seems to me. I would think that they need conversation games, thought provoking questions, and little language chunks that are used in conversation typical of the theme - constructions like "as it seems to me", for example, or colloquial phrases.

I'd appreciate any advice.


Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:55 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Re: Teaching Adults
I teach 2 advanced level classes with retired English teachers, current English teachers and some college English composition professors. ... There is a lot of pressure in those classes :D

Here's what I do. I work with them using simplified news articles from sites like:
www.breakingnewsenglish.com
www.headsupenglish.com

How to use news articles for advanced ESL students:
I give them some true/false questions to read and guess at before we look at the article. The students read the questions and circle true or false based solely on the article title. We read these in class aloud and discuss why they chose their answer, what makes them think it may be true or false.

I have them work with the new vocabulary using a synonym matching section. They have to match new or difficult words from the article with words or phrases of similar meaning. (Breaking News English has a list for you, but I usually change a few to make it more difficult for my groups.) We discuss the words and possibly how to use them in sentences (popular collocations, accompanying prepositions, etc.)

Then I read the article to them. After I have finished reading we go back and discuss the true/false. They can change their answers but the main thing is to discuss the changes. Why do they want to change their answer? Does anyone agree/disagree? I may read the article a second time.

Finally I give them the article to read through. Then, they can ask me to clarify or explain any grammar structures or word usage. Once they are satisfied with the meaning we move on to some discussion questions based on the topic.

For homework, I have them do one of the following:
- write 7 original sentences using any of the new words from the activity
- rewrite the article in their own words just as they would tell the information to a friend
- write out 2 of their answers to the discussion questions

The above strategy provides: vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and writing for each topic. The only thing it lacks is grammar, but we discuss different grammar structures that come up in the article and in discussions.

To keep it well rounded, I try to use articles on different genres - finance, entertainment, politics, sports, tech, fashion, food, law, health, education, ... Each genre has its own specialized vocabulary and by giving students exposure to these different topics that they might not normally discuss, you can hopefully build their vocabulary and speaking confidence in those areas.

One thing I do think is important is using the new vocabulary. I really encourage the students to do the homework exercises and use that new vocabulary. If you just try to memorize meaning, it's very hard to retain those new words. I feel that if you use the words you learn the meaning, along with use and associated words. It great for reviewing and tying the new words to old words. It also creates anticipation of the words you'll likely need or hear in a similar conversation.

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Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:35 am
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