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  1. Junior Member
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland

    • Join Date: Feb 2014
    • Posts: 38
    #1

    mistakes and motivation problems with intermediate adult learners

    Dear teachers,

    I would like to share the problem I encounter with pre-intermediate/intermediate adult learners. Maybe some of you have similar experiences and could share ideas how to overcome it.

    Every now and then I get a an adult student, with some prior knowledge of English, who comes to me because he/she wants to "learn more". Usually this kind of student has had some experience using English abroad, knows the basic vocabulary necessary to convey what they mean. However, their speech (and writing) is marred by lots of mistakes. On the one hand they are aware of the tenses but they only use the simple present tense for everything (past, future, conditionals) or they mix all of them and end up using past for future or the other way around. They also usually hardly ever pay attention to the pronunciation, e.g. ignoring the distinction between short and long vowels, as well as the existence of "th", and often end up saying a completely different word, or sometimes even a swear word. Of course they ARE able to communicate, there's no doubt about that, but this communication is highly reliant on miming, hand gestures, as well as a lot of effort and guesswork on the part of the listener. Here I'd like to add that I only have this problem with the students who first come to me with some experience in using English, I've never had this problem with an adult learner whom I started teaching at the elementary level.

    I know that everybody makes mistakes, and I'm not trying to make their speech absolutely spotless, but to me the natural direction from this point is to try to make their speech more precise, with fewer errors. Of course I could just keep teaching them more advanced vocabulary but I don't really see a point getting them to use words like e.g convenient or sophisticated if they don't make the distinction between "What do you do?" and "What are you doing?". Of course, there is nothing wrong with expanding your vocabulary but then we get a student who is highly competent in passive skills, namely reading, while his/her communicative abilities are rather basic.

    And here I usually hit a wall, because my students want to learn more but they don't want to learn "grammar", because as they say "it's not important for communicating". To some extent I agree, because without any doubt it is possible to communicate without using some more complex structures, but it will always be just basic communicative level. Still, I don’t see how they could improve their English without getting them to correct at least some of the mistakes.

    In a perfect world I would be able to meet with the student every or every other day, and just talk a lot, listen to things, read in English, in a nutshell, get them immersed in the language, and I’m sure they would eventually pick up the whole expressions and start using them more correctly. But the reality is that it is usually one hour a week, an hour and a half if lucky. I during the lesson I try to focus on one aspect e.g how to talk about an event from the past and we practice it using some speaking exercise or a language game, and they get some exercises for homework to work on it on their own. They always get a set a vocabulary from the lesson to learn using an online app, and we always have a short quiz on it in the next class. Still, one student keeps telling me that she doesn’t like it because now she has to think what to say instead of just speaking, and that she doesn’t see a point practicing “grammar”, and that it discourages her from learning.

    What do you think? Has anybody had any experience with such students? How to help them improve their English and keep them motivated? I’d be really grateful for some thoughts.
    Last edited by aggiesteph; 05-Mar-2017 at 19:15.

  2. Key Member
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Aug 2011
    • Posts: 1,918
    #2

    Re: mistakes and motivation problems with intermediate adult learners

    It sounds as if you are giving private, one-on-one lessons. You have good success with most students, but one is being difficult. Maybe it's time for a little 'tough love'. Tell her that other students are making steady progress with your methods but if she is not happy following your plan, then perhaps you are not the teacher for her. If she will be telling others that she doesn't like your methods and is not making progress, then you are better off without her.

    You need to be the one to dismiss her before she can quit you. The next time she starts complaining, hand her money back and say, "Okay. I'm sorry things didn't work out. Good luck." Teaching is a lot like selling- especially with adults. You need to be always 'selling' them on the value of your methods. One very effective way to 'close a sale' is called the "Take Away". If a buyer thinks the item will no longer be offered to them, they immediately think it must have value. She needs to realize that she needs you more than you need her.

    All this assumes you have control over who comes for lessons. If you don't, then you might try another closing strategy called the Feel-Felt-Found: "You feel that _______(paraphrase her statements). Others have felt the same way, but they found that, by following my methods and working hard, they can gradually achieve a good result."

    Good luck!

  3. Newbie
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 17
    #3

    Re: mistakes and motivation problems with intermediate adult learners

    I would try to mix the learner with speakers of other languages other than their own native one. I would also look to pair them up with someone slightly stronger, so that they become aware of their mistakes. If they do not have much experience in speaking English other than in their native country, they can become somewhat complacent.

  4. Newbie
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • India

    • Join Date: Mar 2017
    • Posts: 1
    #4

    Re: mistakes and motivation problems with intermediate adult learners

    hi
    Here are some Tips To Motivate Adult Learners that you might try


    1. Create useful and relevant learning experiences based on the age group and interests of your learners
      Emphasize on the practical knowledge. It is important to design a course that provides immediate relevancy. Learning materials that can be put into practice. Adult learners appreciate more practical knowledge, rather than extraneous facts and theories.
    2. Facilitate exploration
      Even though children are famous for their exploratory nature and curiosity, adult learners, too, sometimes like to take the opportunity to construct knowledge in a way that is meaningful to them. For this reason, you should have all sorts of materials, references, infographics, short videos, lectures, podcasts and free resources available. In such a perfect learning environment learners are more likely to get inspired or find something that makes them want to learn more.
    3. Build community and integrate social media
      Keep in mind that social media websites are a powerful tool for collaboration, commenting and sharing. You can facilitate group discussions and communities. People will quickly start exchanging knowledge, and will also have fun, social media is fun!


    Thanks

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