Friday, July 18, 2014

Three Tips for Teaching Adult Beginners

I've recently moved to Turkey as an EFL teacher, and part of my pre-contract holiday includes a daily 4-hour intensive Turkish course. The class is very small--just me and my husband. I hope to shed a little light on the process of teaching adult beginners through reflection on my own experience.

Here are a few tips for teachers:

  1. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Do your best to honestly support your students. Praise their correct answers and progress as true achievements. For adults, language learning can be more difficult because of higher affective filters. Your praise and encouragement as a teacher will help students feel more comfortable to take risks.
  2. Listen, listen, listen. Your students will probably want to try to communicate with you, but it will be slow and difficult. Give them time to finish trying to use their language before you jump in. That is, give them A LOT of time (even if it is super awkward) to formulate and reformulate their spontaneous utterances to you. Cutting them off may discourage them, and you may misinterpret the meaning without even knowing it.
  3. Be interested in your students' lives and experiences. You may be paid to get students passed on to the next level, but do not underestimate the power of a little human connection in motivating your students to practice and come out of their shells to produce language. In fact, YOU may have more fun teaching, too!
I would love to read your comments based on your experiences teaching adults or being an adult learner, too!