Speaking Skills: How to motivate adult learners at B2+ level

“A good teacher is hard to find,

                          difficult to leave

           and impossible to forget”.

 

If you keep that in mind you will be a successful teacher when facing an adult audience willing to better their speaking skills for their career.

Always remember that you should have to:

 

  • Make them feel at home and make sure that they participate actively.
  • Avoid standing by the board; go next to them and make them feel important.
  • Always smile and be cooperative showing a happy and pleasant attitude.

 

Only then they will trust you, feel relaxed and be eager to learn with you.

  • Create a team spirit amongst your students.
  • Keep them engaged and include everyone in class equally.
  • Show your passion for teaching; they need to know that you love what you do and at the same time you are eager to devote time and energy.

 

Learners need encouragement, so do your best to boost their self-confidence. Insist on them using always English when they talk to each other.

Identify their learning styles; adult students are mainly visual learners but there may be other learning styles.

Be flexible with your normal teaching schedule and lesson plan. You have to accept changes and explain grammar or syntax details for a second or a third time.

Never interrupt your students to correct them when speaking. You identify the most serious mistakes and at the end of the session you explain to them, individually, which verb form etc should have been used instead.

Let them choose the speaking topics according to their interests. This will make them use the target language for talking about things familiar to them. 

 

Let them feel that it is a lot of fun to speak and express themselves in a foreign language.

 

The next step to think about seriously is:

Speaking is considered to be the most important form of knowing a language.

Role play & situations are basic within the world of language learning at all levels. Students need to learn and use practical language. It is essential to explain that to your audience as a good start. Prepare small pieces of paper with short notes explaining exactly what they are expected to do).

The chosen topic has to be interesting and challenging, to stimulate debate.

The wh-words: when, where, who, why & how create a positive encouragement for them to involve their colleagues in the talk.

“ What do you think? “ is one of the best questions to ask in class or “ Could you explain to your colleagues why you are so positive / negative with this idea? “.

A good sign of motivation is to make learners speak about themselves, their experiences within the topic itself.

One additional item is to suggest vocabulary related to the topic and ways to use it.

Asking open questions seeking the views mainly of the shy students will make them become involved and feel self confident. Sharing opinions and allowing students to be as creative as they can. Complaining in a good way to make them feel concerned. Interviewing an athlete or a local Personality is a good way to make them feel important. Opening sentences & ways of explaining, agreeing & disagreeing, doubting, giving reasons, expressing opinions, suggesting, persuading, contrasting, criticizing ….and finally closing sentences

 Introduce & explain the objection technique without offending interlocutors:

You have a point here but...” , “You may be dead right but…”.

Explain stress and intonation, the different accents, vowel and consonant sounds.

 

The English language is no use to someone if they are unable to speak it.

Start with aTeacher Talking Time TTT : Introduction, Explanation. Continue with asking questions and then allow plenty of Student Talking Time STT: Practice individual talking, pair work and group work and finally again TTT: correcting mistakes

 

Certain steps & techniques to follow:

 

There are always tips and tricks which will help teachers encourage their adult learners to speak more in class.

  1. We introduce a reading exercise; it could be a short article. Never ask everyone, ask directly an individual person in class.
  2. Find interesting topics to stimulate debate in class.
  3. Ask your students about themselves and their own experiences. Start always with those who are “ better” and extrovert.
  4. Encourage your students to ask each other questions using and practicing certain tenses.
  5. Teaching pronunciation can be of great help at this level.
  6. Organize a debate session in class. Each student may present his views on a current affair or a topic siding with his field.
  7. What the local papers say, may be interesting to discuss or react.
  8. Ask them to explain things or describe an event or talk about a film they watched or a book they read.

 

Good teachers always have a way to motivate their audience.

Thank you for your time and attention!

Harry J. Nikolaides is the Founder-Director of the Lord Byron School of Languages, Life Long Learning L1, established in 1987 in Thessaloniki, Greece. He has been teaching English to adult learners for more than forty years.

 

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