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Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching English to Adults

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching English to Adults

Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching English to Adults
Admin - Sep 16 2015

Just as teaching children has different advantages and disadvantages, teaching adults English as a second language carries its own set of challenges. Adults have their own lives outside of school with problems beyond the classroom. On the other hand, adults have their own experiences and information that can make teaching an English language class very rewarding.

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Benefits of Teaching English to Adult Learners

As you begin teaching English as a second language to adults, you need to remember that you are dealing with students that already have their own set of study skills. At the very least, they can write and read and they know what it is like to attend to classes. Adult students can also transfer their study skills and learning strategies to their study of English. You can make your job easier by creating activities that will help your adult students to restart their old study skills and apply them to the class.

Adult students will also have a degree of English knowledge. Students may also come equipped with varied levels of education; some will have finished high school while other may not have finished any type of formal education. Adult learners can also use the knowledge they have in their language and apply it in learning English. Learners can compare and contrast their first language with the foreign language to find similarities or differences. It is also easier to discuss complex or controversial topics in English given the life experiences of your adult students.

Another big advantage in teaching adult learners is that they all want to be in the classroom. They are motivated to learn English not because they’re forced to but because they want to. Some students might go to class to integrate into the country they emigrated to while others may seek to better their English skills to get a better job. Regardless of their reasons, adult students go to class with some degree of motivation which makes them easier students to teach.

Challenges of English Language Teaching in an Adult Class

Despite the advantages there are also a number of challenges for teachers. Adults will have higher expectations on the teacher since they paid for the class and fully expect to get their money’s worth. Adult lessons in English will always have grammar lessons and as a teacher you need to be fully versed in grammar rules and have the necessary technical knowledge to explain it effectively. In comparison, teaching children have a less technical side to lessons.

Another disadvantage is that adult learners might not have enough time to learn English given their responsibilities. Most adult learners will only be available to study after work. Because of jobs or everyday life, some learners may fail to invest as much time and effort to learning.

The psychological effects of being back in a classroom after years or even decades since formal study could also play an important factor in the success of adult students in learning English. Adult learners could be intimidated and may place undue stress on themselves to achieve their goals. Teachers must tell their students to relax and set realistic goals. Explain to them what they’re expected to learn in a year. Help them track their progress and view success in a broader term by telling them to look at how far they’ve come in learning.


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