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    • Join Date: Jun 2007
    • Posts: 1

    Teaching older learners

    I am doing my Masters in TESOL and I am currently completing a project on teaching older learners (middle-aged to elderly). I am looking for any experiences and opinions that other teachers can share. What are your experiences of teaching older learners? How was it different to teaching younger adults? What teaching strategies have worked/not worked for you with older learners? Did you teach older learners when you yourself were young or when you were their age?

    Personally, I find that most teacher education courses/books talk about children, adolescents and adults ,but assume all adults are the same. In my experience, however, adult learners in their twenties are quite different to adult learners in their 80s. I am a young person and I tend to find the younger students easier to teach. But I am also quite passionate about helping my older students. For this reason I am looking for other experiences. Please share with me as soon as you can because i have left my project till the last minute

    Thanks all

  1. Editor,
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 68,929

    Re: Teaching older learners

    I think that listening to them and taking their needs and wishes seriously is essential. I had an elderly Pakistani student who had lived in the UK for decades but only had rudimentary English as she had been taking care of children and grandchildren. When the last grandchild had gone to university, she enrolled on a course. Though her literacy was limited, her principle aim was to master some IT skills as she wanted to stay in touch with them, so she focussed on the internet and what she needed for that. Many would have tried to encourage her to study in different ways.

    She started learning English when she was in her seventies and she wanted to be able to master things like email and would spend hours practising skills like remembering and learning her email address, and the questions she needed to ask for help when using the internet in her local library.

    Underneath, it's the same; finding out their needs and trying to meet them.

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 1

    Re: Teaching older learners

    I'm a Polish student of English philology. I'm wiriting my Bachelor's project on similar subject to hanna1985.I want to concetrate on methods of teaching older learners. I would be grateful if you could suggest me any bibliography on this particular subject. If possible send it on my mail box [email protected] I would be grateful!
    Thanks for any help

  2. #4

    Re: Teaching older learners

    I've had quite a few older learners. It doesn't present too much difficulty when it's a group of more mature students, though it can make building a good classroom dynamic difficult if you have mostly students in their twenties, with just one seventy five year old.

    With quite a few of the older learners, I've noticed that they often prefer to be presented with fairly analytical formal grammar and to be given a lot of controlled practice, before heading off into more fluency-based communication activities with a particular language point.

    In my experience, older learners don't have a very positive attitude towards making mistakes - they are too hard on themselves and perfectionist about minor grammar errors. It takes a conscious effort on the part of the teacher to create a relaxed and informal learning environment to help build confidence.

    This is purely based on experience, not theory, though if any one finds any related articles, I'd be interested to hear of them.

    • Join Date: Oct 2007
    • Posts: 58

    Re: Teaching older learners

    Hi! Hannah1985...

    Actually, I'm a teacher too, and right now I'm teaching English and most of my students are much older than me... The first time I talked to them it's really hard especially those students who are not really good in English, and I really don't know what to do so that they will learn from me... Oh' I forgot to tell, I teach English to Koreans.... Well, to be an effective teacher to older learners I think we need to focus more on listening... I always see to it that my speaking is clear and I always try to speak slowly... I think it is also advisable to talk first about personal informations/things.... It's really true that older learners are perfectionist, and sometimes they always think that everything they say are correct and they don't need to be corrected by their teacher... But, of course as time goes by, you will know what they really want and what they need...

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