How to Teach English to Adults
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Teaching English to young learners is one thing, but how to teach English to adults is another thing entirely.
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) is a very varied field, which many people don’t realise. When prospective teachers think about teaching English as a foreign language, they imagine being in a foreign country where nobody speaks English, and they imagine teaching children. Now this situation is very common and probably does account for a large portion of TEFL situations, but it most certainly is not the only one. In fact, many TEFL jobs can be found in English-speaking countries and these, for the most part, involve teaching adults.
This is because your students could be students preparing to study at an English-medium university, they could be immigrants who have come to this country to work or they could be businesspeople who have been sent abroad to study English for their work. As you can imagine, this is a massive market and with countries becoming more diverse and business becoming more global, this is only set to expand even more.
If you have mentally prepared yourself to teach children, though, teaching adults can be a bit difficult to get your head around. It’s important to understand the fact that your students may be older than you or more experienced than you. They have knowledge, intellect and experiences which have shaped the person that they are and it is necessary to be able to understand them individually in order to be able to teach them effectively. You need to prepare yourself with appropriate resources and lesson plans for your adult learners.
So here are a few guidelines to help you when teaching English to adults.
How to teach English to adults: Be authentic
Always be yourself.
Teaching adults is teaching your peers, so it doesn’t make sense to be anyone other than yourself. You don’t need to pretend to know everything and your students certainly won’t expect you to. Your learners will appreciate your authenticity and once everyone gets to know one another, your lessons can become much more relaxed, personal and enjoyable.
Rapport is a vital part of the learning environment. It’s important to ensure you create and maintain good rapport between not only you but also your students.
A great advantage of teaching adults is the fact that you can connect with them on a similar cognitive level. You could even find yourself becoming friends with some of your students and – if you can believe it – looking forward to seeing your students every day!
How to teach English to adults: Use their world knowledge
Adult learners can bring a wealth of knowledge into the classroom. Learn to use this knowledge to make your lessons more interesting and enjoyable. Adults have a natural curiosity which means they are interested in finding out about their classmates and they enjoy sharing knowledge and experiences.
Again, consider yourself. If you are open to connecting with people and finding out about their lives, it’s likely your students are too. As the EFL teacher you have knowledge of the English language and the skill to teach it. Your learners could be bankers, philosophers, artists, writers, plumbers – who knows? They might just be able to teach you a thing or two about a thing or two.
How to teach English to adults: Respect their experience
Especially if teaching Beginners, it can be difficult not to treat your students like children. Always remember that even though they may not be able to communicate in English, for all you know they have a PhD in aeronautical engineering. In other words, make sure the content and activities of your lesson are aimed at adults and not younger learners.
Yes, this is a fine line to judge, so consider these top tips for how to teach adult Beginners:
- Grade the language, not the task. You can ask your learners to do complicated cognitive tasks, but the English involved needs to be simple.
- Don’t forget to scaffold. Take it step by step. Make sure everyone is on the same page before moving on.
- Give them thinking space. Allow time for the language to be processed. This might mean repeating yourself or your isntructions, but this is to be expected.
The bottom line for teaching adults is simple: would I enjoy this? If you would, chances are your students would to. If you wouldn’t, maybe you need to rethink your strategy for teaching adults.
Note: This blog post was updated 19 may 2022.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.