Top Tips for Improving the Learning Process for Adults
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Adulting is hard, we know this. For most of us, school was hard too. So, can you imagine what being an adult learner is like? Yep, you guessed it. Hard.
But hard does not mean impossible.
Let’s look at this from two angles. First, we need to discuss the adult language learners in our English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms. But, we can’t forget about ourselves! So, second, we need to talk about being an adult learner as a TEFL trainee.
Why is it hard for adults to learn a foreign language?
Even though studies show it is easier for us to learn a foreign language before the age of six, this doesn’t in any way mean that if you’re older than six it’s too late. This is known as the critical period hypothesis. This is why many adult learners of a foreign language struggle to achieve native-life pronunciation of a foreign language.
But the critical period hypothesis is just one side of the story. There are a number of other factors which make it more challenging for adult brains to learn a foreign language. Let’s look at them.
- Adults already speak a language
Speaking one language can actually be a hindrance to learning another language. As adults, our brains naturally translate what we don’t understand into our first language. This takes time for our brains to process.
Children can learn a foreign language without the need for this translation. They learn subconsciously by forming direct links between concepts and words without having to use their first language.
- Adult brains are different
As we grow older, our brains learn differently. Adult brains use more complex problem-solving methods to learn. Children use their instincts more. This is why adult learners are more focussed on learning language rules while children are happy to play with language.
At the same time, it might have been a while since your adult learner was in the classroom. Studying is a skill. Without practice, we lose this skill. Adults who have just graduated will find being in the classroom easier than, say, a 45-year old who graduated 20 years ago.
- Adults have to adult
Adults have more on their minds than children. Adults likely have jobs or studies, as well as families and responsibilities to think about. This means that adults are often physically, mentally or emotionally tired when they are tackling language learning, which is not ideal.
So, how can we help our adult learners by improving the learning process for them, particularly in the EFL classroom?
Top tips for improving the learning process for adults
- Prioritise learning
As adults with a lot on their minds, create a safe space for your learners. A space where they can take their minds off their dentist appointments, grocery shopping, and kids’ birthdays, so they can concentrate on learning.
- Have fun
A large part of learning is being comfortable. Adults especially can find it difficult to learn if they feel stressed or threatened. Make sure your classroom is a safe space. Encourage friendships between your students. Maintain a sense of humour, and keep your lessons light-hearted and fun.
Read more: 5 Games for Adult Learners of English
- Be a cheerleader
Disclaimer: we’re not saying you need to wear a uniform! But you can take some tips from cheerleaders. All learners need encouragement. Be mindful of your language in the classroom. Be positive and encourage your students. Make them aware of their progress, which they might not see.
- Encourage questions
Adult learners don’t like admitting they don’t understand or asking for help. Create an environment in your classroom which encourages them to ask questions. This way the students won’t feel afraid to ask for help.
- Be their IT guy
Technology is a great tool for learning. But some adults are not comfortable using technology, or using more than the basics. If you are making use of apps or blogs or social media in your classroom, check whether or not your learners know exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.
Now that we’ve spoken about improving the learning process for adults in the EFL classroom, what about you? If you are still considering doing a TEFL course, chances are you are an adult. Maybe you never really enjoyed being in the classroom. Maybe traditional education never worked for you. Or maybe it’s been a few years since you stepped into a classroom.
We’ve already shown you that learning is different as an adult. Now let’s talk about how you can help yourself on the TEFL course.
Read more: How to Ace Your TEFL Course
- Invest in your course
Your time is valuable. And so is your money. You don’t want to waste time or money doing a course that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. Make sure your TEFL course is accredited and internationally recognised.
- You do you
As an adult, you know the best way you study, and the best way you can fit a course into your busy life. Doing an online course gives you flexibility in terms of location and time. But if you prefer person-to-person contact, make sure the course you choose has enough support from (real) tutors and TEFL experts.
- Get organised
You don’t need a home office to do a TEFL course, but make sure you have a space dedicated to your learning. This can be where you keep your books and notes organised and easily accessible. Being organised will also help you keep on top of the course so you don’t get left behind!
- Be kind to yourself
Doing a TEFL course might seem like a sprint but it can feel like a marathon. TEFL trainees take in huge amounts of information in a short space of time. Work smart, not hard, and know when to rest. Trying to juggle your life and a TEFL course can be tricky, but it’s manageable. Look after yourself, or you won’t finish the course.
Read more: Burnout and the TEFL Teacher
- Stay inspired
Keep your eye on the big picture to keep yourself motivated. Read our alumni’s stories to see what they have achieved with their TEFL qualification and follow our Instagram page for more travel and TEFL inspiration!
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.
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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We collect and use personal information to offer people information, products and services. This policy will apply in all locations where we operate to all forms of information and to all systems used to collect, store, process or transfer information.
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We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
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- 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.