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Tips for teaching adults?

 
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Gorf



Joined: 25 Jun 2011

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:42 pm    Post subject: Tips for teaching adults? Reply with quote

I'm starting a new job next week teaching adults. I've been in South Korea for almost 2 years, but I've only taught Korean children. I did some volunteer English teaching back home before I came to Korea, but I have never taught formally. I am hoping some people here might be able to give me tips about how to teach effectively to adults, attitudes, and how to deal with problems such as shy students or how to make students feel like they're getting their money's worth.

Some notes about these classes:
- No homework, but I can assign extra study work if I want to. What are some good ideas?
- Classes are 2 hours, with a 10 minute break in the middle. Good ideas on how to fill up time and make it valuable?
- 4 or fewer people per class. Is there any kind of dynamic here I can work off of?
- There is a very standard textbook we will use, but I'm not sure if the students want to go over the whole thing, such as the listening exercises. Do adult students get frustrated if some materials aren't used?

Basically I'm looking for someone to give me some pointers on how to help adults learn English better. This is a speaking class and my director wants me to just play it by ear, correct and make them feel like they are learning. Simple stuff, but I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do. I don't want to just go over the book for 2 hours, but I am struggling to think of extra activities or topics we can discuss or do together. Anyone have any suggestions? Sorry if this is ramble-y, it's almost 6:00 AM.
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YTMND



Joined: 16 Jan 2012
Location: You're the man now dog!!

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on their level. When I taught Korean adults, they wanted to be in the same class regardless of their (mixed) levels.

The good thing is they usually then chose what they wanted to do since one book would not satisfy all of them. That is going to be your challenge. Sure, you can plan a lesson for kids, and the kids will follow you regardless if they know it or not. An adult that already knows the material will feel the class is a waste. But if they bring up something simple to talk about with lower level students, then your job is to be their social backboard. A lot of it rests on the higher level students to direct the class.

Another thing that comes up is that you will have 1 student who will talk for the rest, and then the other student or students will passively sit back and listen. Another one of them will be the vocabulary master while the speaker has a better grasp of the grammar and patterns to say. They get into this rut and are dependent on each other, they can't communicate unless the other is there.

I can't say I found a solution to this, but in high school classes and college classes I noticed something similar. In a class of 20-45 students, only 3 would talk while the others sat back even though they could answer. I divided the class into teams where each active speaker was a leader. They had to manage their team and get a "new person" to make a "new sentence".

Instead of having them write sentences, I had them make word lists. Then I introduced a word map and made up a story about their town.

If they can't make word lists, meaning their level is beginner or absolute beginner, you will need picture cards. You will also need to prepare sentence patterns in a very detailed manner compared to kids classes. Kids will listen and repeat, they won't care about the grammar or if it makes sense or not. Adults read, whisper to themselves, change the sentence, and then when they feel confident they might speak. Usually, they just sit back and wait for the "speaker" and compare what that person says with what they planned as an answer.

This means 2 things. One, they aren't interacting in a conversation, and you might be going too fast for them to finish making a sentence. You need to find a way in adult classes to get everyone taking turns.

Dialogues can help, sentence problems (like TOEIC questions), and paired activities. Schools always say "Play games", but this doesn't have much luck unless the students really know each other and can make jokes about each other. So, I usually hold off on playing games until they get a chance to get to know each other.

This is a good first lesson for high beginners. Get them talking about themselves with short introductions. Regular beginners could talk about every day routine activities (waking up, brushing teeth, going to work, shopping, etc...).

And last, use the book as a guide. You don't have to do every page, and you can stop at certain chapters, get online supplemental material so they aren't getting bored with the book work.
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nautilus



Joined: 26 Nov 2005
Location: Je jump, Tu jump, oui jump!

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:54 am    Post subject: Re: Tips for teaching adults? Reply with quote

Gorf wrote:

Basically I'm looking for someone to give me some pointers on how to help adults learn English better. This is a speaking class and my director wants me to just play it by ear, correct and make them feel like they are learning. Simple stuff, but I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do.


The best you can do is choose an interesting book and follow it. It will provide some security for both you and them. Later when you are more comfortable then you can venture into free conversation.

Best is to have small groups of no more than 5 students, preferably same sex.

Anything other than that and the men become a problem because they all start showing off and challenging you constantly in order to try and impress the women.

I far prefer teaching kids btw. You can always simply yell at them to shut up when necessary. Adults tend to act just as juvenile but you can't reprimand them.
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Zyzyfer



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: who, what, where, when, why, how?

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Tips for teaching adults? Reply with quote

Specifics first. I'm a bit rusty though. Embarassed

Gorf wrote:
Some notes about these classes:
- No homework, but I can assign extra study work if I want to. What are some good ideas?


Those listening exercises you mentioned possibly skipping over, for one. Whatever you do assign should simply offer students a chance to reinforce the lesson and they should not be penalized for not doing it.

Quote:
- Classes are 2 hours, with a 10 minute break in the middle. Good ideas on how to fill up time and make it valuable?


Just make sure the structure is clear. Make sure the objective for the lesson is clear. Do a little review of the previous lesson and then a quick warmup. After a bit of guided practice, adults should be getting around 20-25 minutes of time doing conversation activities. It might be good to do one of the better-sounding book conversation activities here for about 10 minutes - you will figure out what is good and what is crap over time - and then give students some room to breathe with a list of additional questions that help reinforce the objective. Wrap up the lesson with a little corrective feedback thing, again eliciting corrections rather than doing it yourself.

It can be difficult to craft activities/questions for some objectives - certain grammar lessons particularly - so don't be afraid to ask, whether it be coworkers or even on here.

Another thing, whenever I would get a new class (every month for me, basically), I would at least quickly explain the concept of follow-up questions to the class. Basically I would encourage them to ask additional questions based on the ones supplied because some students will just fly through a list of questions in 30 seconds and then look at you expectantly for the rest of the activity time.

Also, even though I described a highly structured class above, I liked to spend a little time having a brief, somewhat personalized, conversation with students when doing attendance.

Quote:
- 4 or fewer people per class. Is there any kind of dynamic here I can work off of?


You will probably have to partner with a student for those conversational activities. Four students is pretty solid (I preferred six-eight students in a class) but any smaller and you have to be a partner or at least mediate to keep the talking moving.

Quote:
- There is a very standard textbook we will use, but I'm not sure if the students want to go over the whole thing, such as the listening exercises. Do adult students get frustrated if some materials aren't used?


If you're not doing a decent amount of material from the book then yes, they will complain about having to buy a book. If your hakwon is selling them the books then the boss probably wants them buying the books. Simply asking your boss what the deal is will answer that for you.

If the boss doesn't care if they buy books or not, it is definitely possible to teach students without requiring that they have a book. With some practice, you can expand on book activities and photocopy important pages if required. Higher-level students don't like books very much, worth bearing in mind.

At the same time, you should be following some sort of curriculum, so a set of books to follow will be very useful for you.

Quote:
I'm starting a new job next week teaching adults. I've been in South Korea for almost 2 years, but I've only taught Korean children. I did some volunteer English teaching back home before I came to Korea, but I have never taught formally. I am hoping some people here might be able to give me tips about how to teach effectively to adults, attitudes, and how to deal with problems such as shy students or how to make students feel like they're getting their money's worth.


Students feel like they're getting their money's worth when two things happen. First is that they feel like they can make some sort of connection, however tenuous the connection they want may be, with the teacher. Secondly, and more importantly, they want to talk.

University students overall are a breeze. They're being forced to go by their parents so, as long as they enjoy themselves and like you, they don't pose a problem.

With shy students, you will just have to be as patient as possible. Don't get frustrated or annoyed with them if they crap out a bit when called on. Pair them with talkative students when possible. It takes time for them to warm up, sometimes a very long time.

Some other generic stuff, might sound basic but I've seen people do some idiotic things:

- don't argue with the students, if they want to discuss the status of Dokdo in class then fine, but do not give your own opinions about sensitive issues
- for the matter, try not to argue with students in class in general, even class-related issues, but if a student insists on complaining about something then don't brush him or her off either
- don't be late to a class
- walk in with a smile or at least be upbeat
- you can exaggerate yourself to a degree and be goofy, but don't get too carried away with it
- when asked about a grammar point and you do not know the answer, don't brush the student off by saying that's how it is in English for your response; mention that you're not sure why that's the case, and you will check it out and explain it in the next class
- the less you talk, while still maintaining a structured lesson, the better
- don't be afraid to ask for help from coworkers or other info sources
- overplan lessons with additional activities just in case, although if you're using these back-up activities more than like once a month it means your lessons are too loosely planned
- on that note, plan your lessons very well the first time you give them, and tweak any weaknesses; adult students can sniff right through a lack of planning
- try to minimize complaining about students in the teacher's room, it's going to happen but it's not the best habit

Quote:
Basically I'm looking for someone to give me some pointers on how to help adults learn English better. This is a speaking class and my director wants me to just play it by ear, correct and make them feel like they are learning. Simple stuff, but I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do. I don't want to just go over the book for 2 hours, but I am struggling to think of extra activities or topics we can discuss or do together. Anyone have any suggestions? Sorry if this is ramble-y, it's almost 6:00 AM.


I got pretty good at making worksheets with lists of questions. I had binders full of them, actually, divided by lesson so I could easily locate supplementary material. It will often be the case that the book will have some nice grammar point to learn but the most idiotic topic ever to pair with it, like pets or sports (trust me, they fail quite often). So you can take the grammar point and design your own questions. You can probably find material like this online as well...but a lot of material I've seen has questions that suck and should be removed. Some questions are dead ends or just boring as hell to students.

I mentioned this earlier, but the most useful thing I could do with a class was explain the concept of follow-up questions to them. Quickly dust up on the "wh" questions and then write the simplest question on the board. Something like "What's your favorite food?" And write the answer, "I like pizza."

After that I would lightly tease students about how they would just fly through the activity and not get any practice by answering like this. Then I would write a follow-up question on the board, perhaps "What's your favorite pizza restaurant?" After that, I would elicit additional questions from the class, and wrap up by pointing out how one silly question led to so many more. Bam, from day one, they know exactly what you expect them to do, and start having actual conversations in class.
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