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Motivating adults
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bjacquin



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 5
Location: France

PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:14 pm    Post subject: Motivating adults Reply with quote

My retirement age adult students always have an excuse for not doing their homework. I realize they have active lives and are often torn in many directions, some of which is inevitable and beyond their control. However, I'm getting tired of listening to their whining about the differences between French and English and how they (the French) can't speak or learn it since it's not a Latin (read Spanish, Italian or Greek) romance language. I know it's good for them to get it off their chests and we do talk about it in class. But they haven't yet decided to set aside time to study regularly and get serious about this. They are paying out of their own pockets for the course.

At the beginning I always set out the rules and give advice on learning methods for different types of learners, I stress that they will get out of the course exactly what they put into it timewise, but in some ways they're like immature kids when it comes to study habits.

Obviously, they are learning English in a French environment and have little occasion to speak it, even though there are lots of Anglophone expats in the area. My lessons are rich in vocabulary and language for practical situations and are supplemented by other materials than their textbook.

Should I systematically back up and review, going back several lessons, delving into the "basics" that they should have assimilated, in my opinion? I get the feeling we don't make much progress that way.

Oh well, this was one of those days. It too will pass!

Please, some ideas from out there. Thanks so much.
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alawton



Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Sun May 02, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject: Older Learners Reply with quote

I have had similar classes in the past. My students were Spanish speakers living in Mexico learning English. If you can get the students to not focus too much on the grammatical rules and how they are hard to understand, you are going in the right direction. Maybe create role play type exercises where the students create a conversation based on something they are interested in. On the board write the vocabulary and grammatical concept you are covering that week so they are sure to include it in the dialogue. Help them get the sentences sounding correct, but try to get them to focus on the conversation and maybe make it funny. Students learn a lot more when they are relaxed. If they are enjoying the activity they may not dwell so much on how hard English is to learn. I know that this is easier said than done, but give it a try. Good luck!


Andrew Lawton
http://drewseslfluencylessons.com
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bjacquin



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 5
Location: France

PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very good advice. Thanks.
I've done this often during their "conversation" time in pairs and they enjoy it very much. I do try to keep it on the grammar point that we're working on. I'll ask for more of it in their homework and hope for the best. The French seem to think grammar work is the only way to learn and I try to steer them away from it when I can.
Barbara
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udhetari



Joined: 19 Jun 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This comment may be a bit late, but Ive only just joined the board.

Ive had to deal with this problem as well. In one low-intermediate level class, I got good results by assigning responsibility for each class to two students: one had to present a topic, the other had to lead a question and answer period. I tried to assign topics that would challenge them on whatever grammar point we were working on (current events for present perfect vs past tense, for instance), and when I couldnt find an obvious tie-in, I would just add requirements, like including a minimum of four comparisons, or 5 new adjectives. The presenter had intensive practise in writing/presenting, and the rest of the class had practise in listening comprehension and asking questions. They took it more seriously, because only two people had homework per week, and each one only had homework every three weeks or so. Sometimes they would even meet up to prepare together.

I also try to compensate for their not doing homework by playing games that require a lot repetition, in the hope that something will get drilled into their long-term memories before they leave the class. So, for instance, we play the memory game where one person says something, the next person has to repeat it and add something: I went to the park. I went to the cinema and Tom went to the park. I went to the store, Cindy went to the cinema, and Tom went to the park. etc. This is great for drilling simple grammar structures.

Good luck!
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding homework, I found that having a grammar point with old stand-by type exercises for homework that could be easily corrected with an overhead the next day, in fifteen minutes or less, allowed my older students to feel like they were studying "grammar" and also if they didn't have time to do the homework, they copied the answers while we corrected it in class. Also, the teacher doesn't have to take the homework home to correct and there is instant feedback. The rest of the class time I used for various other activities--my students liked dictations, watching something on tape and then working in pairs to take the 12 sentences I wrote about the story they had seen, and cut in half (24 sentence parts) and put the sentences back together and in order. I also did card exercises with vocabulary, including idioms and prefixes, as well as conversation topics. I also had 13 envelopes with about 30 questions in each (all different) that I would bring out every so often and have the students work in groups of three and take turns reading a question and having a mini-discussion about it.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yours is a common complaint in all the classes I have taken now that I am retired. It seems that people come more for the social aspect than really wanting to invest time in it, but like to say they are doing something educational.

Our teachers have given us practical homework like playing games with our grandchildren or reading them stories. Since most of our grandchildren speak the language that we are learning that is very motivating. Even the ones that don't have grandchildren or don't have grandchildren who speak the language, the games make it fun for everyone. They have usually provided board games but often suggest other things to do with the children that are really fun or a project that we can bring back and talk about, bragging about the talents of our grandchildren.
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Avocado



Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 1:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Motivating adults Reply with quote

Personally, and I know this may sound a bit hard, but I don't think one should have to motivate adults. They should either be motivated on their own or, you know, get another hobby. If students can't meet you halfway, make it clear to them that they can expect results proportionate to the amount of effort they put in. And if they're OK with those results being minimal, then so am I. One can't really force people to learn.
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aprillove20



Joined: 09 Jan 2010
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think create role play type exercises where the students create a conversation based on something they are interested.
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bjacquin



Joined: 25 Oct 2009
Posts: 5
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:35 am    Post subject: Motivating adults Reply with quote

Thanks to everybody for all the ideas. I now think I'm on the right track with my classes since I have concentrated on making the English they learn really personal and pertinent to their lives. And I'll continue to give out exercises which reinforce what they've been working on and if they do it so much the better. If not, not my problem! This is a great forum so keep the ideas coming.
Barbara Laughing
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alawton



Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:41 pm    Post subject: Students Reply with quote

Hello,

I have had classes that are similar to what you are describibg. In that kind of a class you really can't force them to do homework like you maybe could for kids in school. I have had success in the past if I assign homework that will be covered the first ten minutes of class. I call on each student to answer the homework questions. Students arrive to class knowing that they will be asked a random question from the homework in front of the entire class. This will motivate some students hopefully. Good luck!


Andrew lawton
http://drewseslfluencylessons.com
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bigbadwolf



Joined: 20 Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Location: fareham, hampshire, uk

PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:09 pm    Post subject: Adult Education - Motivating Adults Reply with quote

I am very interested in your comments as I am a Deaf Adult Education teacher teaching British Sign Language in Portsmouth area, England. It can be difficult to motivate normally hearing students to express their feelings and emotions using a combination of facial expressions, hands and body language as they are used to using their tone of voice to convey their degree of feeling and emotion. I try to get them to transfer their feelings from using their voices to visual expressions such as facial expressions, hands etc. Whilst on a teaching course, I met a fellow teacher teaching Spanish and he came up with a simple but effective method of teaching his students how to speak with feeling in Spanish He would get a number of cards bearing various photographs such as a can of Coke, a bowl of worms, a slice of pizza, a snake and so on. Using 'Me Gusta' and 'No Me gusta' sentences which are Spanish for 'I like' and 'I don't like' respectively, he was able to get them to speak Spanish correctly with the depth of feeling and tone of voice. I tried using the same principle on my students but signing with the correct facial expressions, handshapes as well as body language and it worked a treat. I try to extend it with simple short stories from children's books as well as using sheets showing up to 6 picture story sequences. Invariably I use a lot of 1 : 1 play as well as group play. A lot of hearing students are often reluctant to show their feelings and emotions in a visual sense using sign language for fear of being embarrassed or seen not to be as good as other persons who they think or imagine to be better than themselves. [/b]
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sally's right!

In my experience, adult students attend class as much for social reasons as for learning--but don't second guess them, they do want to learn something even if they don't put in any extra effort on their own. I know, it sounds contradictory but keep in mind, at the beginner AND advanced levels, progress is painfully slow. Give them a break!

In order to keep them as students, you've got to show them what they're capable of and be ultra-focused and accountable yourself so as to track their progress over time. If they're there partly to have fun, ensure they do with games that meet both needs. Unless they specifically want to develop reading and writing, don't waste time on this or you will lose them. Stick to meaningful speaking and guided listening practice. Teach them, not the book. Read what I've written about oral translation as review on the following thread. If you can't translate it yourself into L1, get one of them to do it from a pre-printed sentence:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=10189
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nazarene



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If adults are investing already such time in learning- one or maybe it is two hour clases- I wonder if homework should be necessary. Also people are busy, especially if they work or have other priorities, like being with family. Obviously if they study at home they will learn faster, but my point remains that if a method is effective and efficient, I don't think homework should be so necessary. I would look into the method that is being taught. So much I think gets blamed on teachers and students both, when the method is not the best- i.e. that tips the balance of talk time towards students, does systematic revision, is logically set up, detail attentive, etc. The third criteria is enjoyable but I think if one is effective and efficient, enjoyment comes naturally although little details can be added.

I think review is always a wise idea in language learning. They call this 'over learning' which is proven effective for mastery of a language, because there are levels of learning and mastery. but I don't like the word 'over' learning. I just call it the highest level of mastery- assuming they are not struggling with the material still, which they might actually be.

Yes I think 'adults' should be self motivated. I am personally very motivated in my studies of languages so it is suprising that not all people are. I am sure you are a great teacher. But I would look for ways to inspire students rather than to force or persuade them to do homework, especially when they are adults, yet to be both a teacher and a salesman is draining. I generally let them do what they want and just try to do my job the best. I also don't like giving homework so we have an arrangement that works. I work (hard) to make my classes effectve and efficient although I have an uphill battle with the textbook I am using. Smile In your shoes I might focus on making a way that is effective first, efficient second, and enjoyable third, and let those who won't do homework be. I believe it is possible with a good method to learn English solely in classroom time. Also the type of homework should be good. Listening homework on CDs I find to be great for my own personal studies. I can spend hours, whereas I always hated doing traditional exercises. I always liked reading and listening the best and loathed all else, as unnatural, un 'organic' .

Good luck
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longshikong



Joined: 26 Oct 2009
Posts: 88

PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

nazarene wrote:
effective and efficient


What nazarene alludes to is Self-efficacy Theory:

Quote:
According to self-efficacy theorists, low self-efficacy causes motivational problems. If students believe they cannot succeed on specific tasks (low self-efficacy), they will superficially attempt them, give up quickly, or avoid or resist them.

Low self-efficacy beliefs, unfortunately, impede academic achievement and, in the long run, create self-fulfilling prophecies of failure and learned helplessness that can devastate psychological well-being. For example, if struggling learners believe that composition writing is impossible for them, that whatever they write will earn a failing grade because they lack and can never develop the ability to write, they may resist writing by feigning illness, creating diversionary behavior problems, writing no more than a carelessly created sentence, or completing the assignment in a thoughtless, slipshod fashion. Such negatively reinforcing escape behaviors will seriously impede achievement, especially when low self-efficacy generalizes .to other academic 'activities. In addition, such behaviors may exacerbate deficits and create additional school difficulties, such as poor grades, conflict with teachers, lower track placement, special education placement, failure on high-stakes tests, and retention. Often, the key to motivating and engaging struggling learners is to get them to believe that they can succeed. Beliefs, can change behavior: "As the research has shown, students are motivated to engage in tasks and achieve when they believe they can accomplish the task". This is the essence of self-efficacy.

Students get self-efficacy information from four sources: their task performance, referred to as enactive mastery; vicarious experiences; verbal persuasion; and their physiological reactions or states. Self-efficacy is what students infer from the information from these sources; it is the judgment they make about their ability to succeed on a specific task or set of related tasks. By understanding and systematically using these sources, teachers can influence struggling learners' self-efficacy.

From Improving Self Eficacy and Motivation: What to Do, What to Say
By HOWARD MARGOLIS AND PATRICK P. MCCABE


How many of us teach the course rather than the students... and within a mixed class? Doesn't that just compound the problem? And for students in non-English countries to have never used the English they've studied for a decade, the challenge is even greater. That's why I've been hoping to get my adult beginners to start actually speaking to people in other countries: Can my adult class (2-6 students) interview yours on Skype?
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nazarene



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That theory seems to correspond to part of what I say. If a student isn't succeeding- and it could be the fault neither of the student nor the the teacher, but rather the method or the book or the approachs used for providing material and practicing that material and reviewing it and correcting errors and motivating them to speak, then ı think they will eventually begin to lose motivation towards that method. I find this to be true in my own experience many times. They won't necessarily lose general motivation towards learning English-it depends on how they generalize or globalize their experience. I find this also to be my experience. Lack of motivation is a signal that says stop doing what we are doing because it is not working.

It seems some of you might like explanations put in technical and theoretical language. I also say there is a relevance theory of motivation. If they don't see english as so relevant they won't be very motivated. I think of children forced to learn English. But this also applies to adults in specific situations. All adults know that English is relevant but what about the particular english you are teaching- for the Nth time. And not only what but how. What is most relevant is for them to be able to express themselves in all situations and for them to understand other people expressing themselves.

So I think a student feels they have efficacy as well as that they are learning something relevant, I can see how they can get through difficulty and how boredom and frustration can melt away. But also if they are just interested in the subject or they are having fun- if they are not aware that they are even learning, that also solves the motivation issue. Playing, laughing etc

This is not exhaustive. They might dislike not being in control fo a class. But I think it covers most things in practice. In my practice I also lose motivation to teach with a less than perfect book that doesn't make it easy for the student or teacher to do speaking exercises let alone review them. There are so many motivation killers. I suggest trying to find one motivation killer every day for the next two months and stop doing that if possible. I should also here take my own advice but I probably won't because my mind is full of other things now.

in sum make your courses relevant and make your style and method effective so that the students feel that THEY have self-EFFİCACY. That is the whole sum of this mail in a few words. Oh ıf I myself knew how to make this the case!
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