The TEFL Life: A TEFL blog

a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures

teaching adults

Working in London was, for me, my first experience working in a language school and teaching adults. Teaching children had been challenging and exhausting (see A day in the life), and thankfully teaching adults is completely different.

Most obviously, adults are capable of having conversations, which means that lessons can be based on discussion and debate, rather than colour and song. They bring their life experiences with them to the classroom so lessons can deal with complex topics, not colours and numbers.

I think teaching children and teaching adults actually takes two different kinds of teachers. While children give back so much energy – while it can be like pulling teeth with adults – adults are able to give intellectual thought to the content of your lessons, which I really appreciate. I find teaching adults less exhausting because I expect more from them and I expect them to contribute more to the direction and the tone of the lesson. While I enjoy being a teacher, one of my better roles is definitely the facilitator, which means that I need my students to work with me and work as a team to improve as individuals. Make sense?

It’s not all bubblegum and butterflies, though: adults can be really difficult in their own way. It can be difficult to motivate adults if their heart is not in the learning process. Adults question your methods and practices, often in comparison to their own learning history. Adults can be stubborn, hungover, tired from work, or all of the above.

I think the important thing to remember with adults is just that – they are adults. They have lives outside the classroom, they have a past, and they are fully-formed functional beings. It’s important not to neglect that side of them. They are not blank slates, but rather messy whiteboards.

But at least I don’t have to show them how to use the toilet.

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4 comments on “teaching adults

  1. Barbara Husar
    March 16, 2015

    have you found a job in london then?

  2. Kirsten C
    March 16, 2015

    Hi Barbara! My blog is a trip down memory lane for me – I’m reliving all my TEFL experiences, right from the beginning in 2003. I’m now in South Africa, but I was in London in 2005. Hope you enjoy reading about my adventures!

  3. liamjameshaddock
    March 16, 2015

    I agree. The difference between teaching adults & children is huge.

    • Kirsten C
      March 16, 2015

      It really is – in both good and bad ways, but I suppose that depends on you as a teacher. I definitely prefer adults but maybe that’s because I have more experience with them. For some reason I find I have a lot less patience with children, so maybe it’s better I stick with the adults 🙂

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2015 by in General TEFL, UK and tagged , , , .

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