Materials to Use when Teaching English to Adults
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Many people, when they think of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), think of being in a classroom in China (or Italy or Mexico) teaching the colours of the rainbow to 5-year-olds. This is indeed the reality for many teachers (think farm animals, fairy tales, and days of the week) but there is a whole different world of teachers who teach English to adults and it’s chalk and cheese to teaching children. So lets take a look at what materials to use when teaching English to adults.
What are the differences between teaching English to Young Learners and teaching English to adults?
If you compare a 6-year old and a 25-year old, you can probably come up with a few differences immediately. However, teaching English as a Foreign Language is the same whether you are teaching Young Learners or adults. What will change are the materials you use and the approach you take. In other words, while the basic foundations of your teaching will remain the same, there are a number of behavioural and cognitive differences you need to be aware of between Young Learners and adults which will affect how you teach them.
Materials to Use when Teaching English to Adults
- Young Learners are obviously not as cognitively advanced as adults so they need materials and activities which are relatively simple even if the language is of a high level.
- Young Learners enjoy movement, so games, songs, and drama work well to keep them entertained.
- Young Learners have short attention spans so your lessons will include a variety of 5- to 10-minute activities.
- Young Learners may need more help in other senses, such as going to the toilet, snack time, or help with cutting or painting.
- Adults shouldn’t (!) require as much discipline as Young Learners.
- You can expect a lot more from your adult students by way of capabilities for activities.
- Adults have longer attention spans and can concentrate for longer periods of time, while also being able to focus on activities over extended periods of time.
- Adults bring life experience into the classroom, as well as a fair amount of knowledge. This can be great to include in your lessons.
Read more: 6 Differences between Teaching Adults and Young Learners
How do I know if I will be teaching children or adults?
You don’t, really. When you are applying for jobs you shouldn’t necessarily search for a job based on the age group. Rather, look for a job at the destination of your choice. Whether that job is teaching kindergarten or university students shouldn’t matter to you, as long as it’s a stable job.
As to whether you’d prefer teaching children or adults, that’s anyone’s guess. If you have had any experience teaching or tutoring both age groups then you might know but if you are new to teaching then you probably have no idea what either will entail. The only way you can tell if you prefer teaching one over the other is if you actually teach them.
Bear this in mind when you are applying for jobs: don’t be too picky when it comes to the age of your students if you are new to TEFL and don’t have experience teaching both. Who knows, you might find you absolutely love teaching kindergarten!
There are loads of websites and blogs which give you advice on teaching English to Young Learners, but you may not be so comfortable finding materials to use when teaching adults. So for today, let us focus on teaching adults and what materials you should be using.
Selecting the right materials for teaching English to adults
Probably the trickiest thing about choosing the right materials for adult EFL students is balancing their language level with their cognitive abilities. Even though adult Beginner students need to learn basic vocabulary, that doesn’t mean you need to use children’s books and nursery rhymes to teach them. You need to find content that is suitable for more mature minds but is pitched at the right English level.
Even materials that are aimed at teenagers may not be appropriate for your adult learners because even though they may be close in age, adult learners bring a lifetime of experiences into the classroom which teens have just not had yet. What’s more, adult learners also have background knowledge, learning experiences, as well as fully-formed opinions on any topic under the sun.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. We can use this “baggage” that our adult students bring with them into the classroom to liven up our lesson materials. Wouldn’t you rather talk about your own work experience and hear about your classmates’ real-life experience than learn about a fictional person from some random city (which is what you will invariably find in the coursebooks)? Of course, you would! And your students are just the same.
While teens and younger learners may feel self-conscious talking about themselves in the class, adults enjoy talking about themselves and getting to know their classmates. What’s more, talking about what they know and are familiar with is helpful to the learning process as they are building on what they already know; they are taking advantage of the foundation of knowledge they already have.
Read more: 5 Ways to Make Language Learning Meaningful
Then there are authentic materials. We are firm believers in the use of authentic materials in the EFL classroom for any age and level. However, authentic materials are easier to introduce into your adult lessons than your Young Learner classes. Since we want our lessons to mimic the real world, using materials like menus, tourist brochures, newspapers, magazines, novels and films are good practice for our students for what they want to use English for.
There is no denying that authentic materials are a lot more interesting than coursebooks – with the added bonus of being current and on-trend – so make sure to include authentic materials for your adult lessons. When teaching English, you need to be sure that the materials you are choosing are relevant to your learners. This will ensure usefulness as well as interest.
Read more: How to Choose Authentic Materials for the EFL Classroom
This is not to say that you can’t use conventional materials with your adult learners – we don’t expect you to re-invent the wheel – but utilise them in a way that relates directly to your learners. Take advantage of what your students bring with them into the classroom and focus on their lives outside of the classroom. Make sure you personalize your lessons and relate the context and the language directly to your learners.
Don’t forget: you are just as interesting as your students, so your students would love to hear about your life as well!
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- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
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.