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Teaching the Alphabet and Basics to Adults in Hong Kong

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Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:27 am    Post subject: Teaching the Alphabet and Basics to Adults in Hong Kong Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I'm going to start teaching a "Fundamental English 1" course soon in Hong Kong at a non-profit organisation, to adults who, I assume, chose the course because they have never, or only have learnt English in primary school some 30-40 years ago.

The course comes with a small 'textbook', a booklet that consists of 12 lessons (the course is 12 lessons, each lesson 1.5 hrs long ), but with each lesson consisting of only 2 A5 pages of very basic exercises.

The first lesson will be teaching them how to write the alphabet, with pictures and numbers showing the order of strokes...

My problem is: I don't want to sound condescending to my students. They will all be 10-20 years older than I am (I'm 24), and I assume, living in HK, they should all be at least familiar with the alphabet....

I've been asked to stick to the booklet, and ADD ON exercises/worksheets/activities of my own...

How should I go about teaching them, first, the alphabet, and then days and months, then the time, festivals and celebrations etc... without sounding like I'm teaching children?

Will it be too much to REALLY follow the booklet and ask them to do the alphabet stroke by stroke? There are even 3 pictures of a whale and submarine with 'hidden' letters in them... the exercise asking students to "find the letters".

Any way I can work WITH the booklet but add some infinitely more interesting activities to go with?

I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions at all.

-Karen Wink
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Joined: 08 Jan 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:35 pm    Post subject: teaching writing to adults in Hong Kong Reply with quote

Hey Kho,

I find it really interesting that they first thing the booklet want to teach is the use of strokes for writing letters. I guess the Chinese language must be written with exact strokes so that is where they are coming from.

A way to expand an exercise is to find a way to practice something over and over in different ways.

Usually, if you teach speaking and listening along with writing, they will remember more.

Maybe you can get them to fill out an interview sheet where they first write down their own personal information like name, age, and favourite colour. Then, they go around asking each other, "What's your favourite colour?" Or "What's your name?" They can then write down "Xu, age 46, red".

This is basic, but meaningful.
Maybe find out their interests, and if they can write down the name of their jobs or how many brothers and sisters they have would be good.

I guided a conversation club for seniors and half of them were from China. I was 27 and they were 60+. None of them were working, but I was curious about their backgronds. Also, they had lots of suggestions for themes to cover. My situation was in Canada, an English speaking country. I will be curious as to what you decide to in a situation where English is a Foreign Language.

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

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:17 pm    Post subject: Teaching Adults Reply with quote


I know the feeling of being young and teaching older students. You don't want them to think that you are babying them, but you don't want to skip over major topics either.

In classes like this I will keep the mood light and let everyone know that, even though the assignment may seem appropriate for little kids, it is also going to help adults. I've found that many adults don't mind these kinds of learning games while they are starting off with a language study. It makes things less intimidating.

I'd say do the activities that you have in your book. If you feel you need some more materials pick a newspaper in English and have students find letters in it or sound out words. Let them know that any activity that works on English skills is worth while. Good luck!

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