Advice for teaching adults?

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Advice for teaching adults?

Unread post by nilay » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:54 am

Hi my friends. I want to ask a question to my colleagues all over the world. I've just started a new job and they want me to teach English to the administrator. Actually I'm not bad at preparing lessons plans and making mindmaps, but, since it is all about teaching a man who is older and more superior than me, I don't know what to do. He can speak German and he has some pronunciation problems because of confusing English with German. In addition he can get what he reads but he suffers from listening. I'll appreciate if you share your ideas and experiences with me. Thank you!

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Re: Advice for teaching adults?

Unread post by netsooz » Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:27 am

It should not be a concern to teach someone who is older than you. Well, after all, he understands the fact that he is just a learner and would not feel superior even if he is a manager. Try to focus on right delivery of your lessons and then you would be amazed by the respect you gain even if you are way too younger.
To work on your student's listening, I would suggest you use two techniques:
1- Telling him to listen to pod casts and English radio channels (of his choice) to enhance his general comprehension.
2- Study "Cambridge Real Listening and Speaking" series. There are four volumes. You can begin by anyone of them depending on his current proficiency level.

For his pronunciation, I recommend you use direct feedback. Let him talk about a particular topic and try to jot down his pronunciation errors. (Only if they are errors) and once he is over, give him the correct pronunciation. Make sure you do not interrupt him for corrections.

Good luck

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Re: Advice for teaching adults?

Unread post by poppsensei » Sat Aug 10, 2013 9:18 pm

I would avoid using any textbook with an adult student who speaks English fairly well but with an accent. It has been my experience that textbooks tend to bore adults very quickly. Ask him what his interests are, focus your lessons on his interests. Accents tend to dissipate in natural conversation with native speakers, of course, they eventually speak more and more with your accent :-)
Work with him on what he perceives as his interests or needs. I had an engineer who couldn't understand the emails he was receiving from company people overseas, being careful with company privacy issues, he would pull sentences that were particularly bothering him and those made the "topic" of the day.
Had another student who loved American Traditional Patchwork Quilts, downloaded articles about quilting and quilting conventions and shows. She loved her lessons, was highly motivated to learn the English to understand more about the American quilting scene.
Go with the flow, or actually "go with their flow".

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Re: Advice for teaching adults?

Unread post by onlinejack » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:51 pm

I agree with poppsensei. Discuss topics that are relevant to your student, and work on the English that he needs.

Don't worry about him being older or "superior" to you. Just try to find some common ground at first and connect with each other.

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Re: Advice for teaching adults?

Unread post by Syl » Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:05 pm

There are many activities I do with adult learners (I tutor them at my home), which include among others, recording dialogues with my own voice and burning them to CD's. The pupils then take them home and follow the printed text I provide them. This activity has many advantages: it improves the accent, and also causes the student to have some progress with his speaking.

If the person has listening difficulties, I suggest them to use headphones, while practicing the dialogues. By the way, you don't have to record only dialogues, there are several texts, easy ones to be read and be repeated by the pupil.

If the teacher himself has problems with accent, then try to google the words "breaking news esl", and you will get to a site, totally FREE, with lots of texts and exercises online, classified in different levels. All the texts are recorded, and you can download them also for free. The activities following the texts are innumerable....

There are many activities you can do besides the listening activities:

After teaching a certain sentence pattern, give him a "find the differences" exercise: two very similar pictures, and the pupil will say: There is a....... in picture A, but a......... in picture B. Google the words "find the differences" on Google images or any other search engine, and you will find hundreds of images.

Another activity: Take an image from a magazine, hide most of it with construction paper and leave just a small detail. It's a guessing activity to encourage the pupil to ask questions: "Is it a....? etc.

There are many other things to do, I will be pleased to help if you need more suggestions.

And here is what I wrote to someone on this forum about how I improve my own accent:

"I second my colleagues' replies, no reason to feel the way you do about your accent. I myself am a Brazilian and many English natives recognize my accent immediately! :D

What I do to improve mine, just for the sake of being understood and pronouncing correctly so that people don't misunderstand me, is this:

- I listen to lots of recorded lectures, which I find in the web, some of them even in YouTube;
- I speak to English natives all the time to a point in which I subconsciously absorb the accent;
- I frequently watch movies without translations in order to force myself to listen to what is being said and also absorb the accent;
These and any other way through which one can be exposed to the native spoken language is a blast. Even songs! Listen to them and sing along.. use YouTube, too!

By the way, I strongly recommend these suggestions when teaching English. Expose the students as much as possible to natural, original, native language. The use of recordings in class is a must.

I hope it helps. :)


Syl's English Corner - Learn English and Have Fun

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