Teaching Mature Learners In The EFL Classroom
Join a global community of over 200,000 TEFL teachers working throughout the world! Enrol me!
Teaching English as a Foreign Language can mean many things. You could find yourself teaching any age group, any subject, in any country – from Argentina to Zambia. If you are a bit concerned about teaching, there is a lot of literature available for you to read up on the many different aspects of teaching English as a Foreign Language. Except for one.
If you find yourself teaching mature learners, you might not be as prepared as you would if you were teaching Young Learners, teens or adults. Of course mature learners fit into the adult category, but there are a few things about our silver learners which are a bit different. Here’s what:
Let’s start with the obvious. Silver learners usually don’t have a need to learn English. They are not learning for their job or degree and they are probably not about to emigrate. They are there because they choose to be there. This is how they want to spend their time. They are likely attracted to the classroom environment because they enjoy the social aspect of learning and have a desire for intellectual stimulation. A more motivated student is hard to find!
Silver learners bring all their life experiences with them into the classroom. These experiences will have contributed to their outlook on life and their opinions. Usually students – no matter their age – will not hesitate to speak their mind about their views and their lives. With mature students, this can be a wealth of information for the whole class to enjoy.
Clearly there are benefits to having mature learners in your classroom. Of course, at the same time, we need to be aware of the fact that they are older learners, and there are a few other factors related to this that we need to keep in mind.
Physical Factors Affecting Mature Students
With advanced years comes wear and tear on the body. Mature learners may have difficulties with their hearing, their sight or their mobility. If you have mature students in your classroom, take some time to find out if they have any physical difficulties which could affect their learning. If they do, be sure to take this into consideration during your lessons.
You may need to print worksheets with bigger fonts, seat these students close to the board or adjust your listening texts. You must also make sure your learners are comfortable and their movements are not restricted in any way.
Cognitive Factors Affecting Mature Students
As well as the physical effects of aging, your students may show the cognitive effects of aging. With an increase in age, there is a decrease in our capabilities for recall. What this means is that these mature students may need more opportunities to practice language and more activities to help remember new language.
Also, even though mature students may be positive about the learning experience, this doesn’t mean that they’ll be confident. Being back in the classroom after many years can cause anxiety and students can suffer from a lack of confidence. Be sure to be patient and encouraging with your students and help them realise how effective they can still be at learning.
The TEFL Academy was the world’s first TEFL course provider to receive official recognition from government regulated awarding bodies in both the USA and UK. This means when you graduate you’ll hold a globally recognised Level 3 (120hr) Certificate or Level 5 (168hr) Diploma, meaning you can find work anywhere and apply for jobs immediately.