Why do Language Learners Stop Lessons and why do we care?

Whenever I have to teach adults, most of the times I find out that they had English lessons some time in the past, but for various reasons they quit.

When dealing with restarters, in the beginning I ask them these two questions.

  1. Why do you need English?
  2. Why did you stop learning English?


By Blerta Matina Tartari


Okay, it makes sense to ask them the reason that they want to continue or restart their English because it will determine the areas of study we will focus on. Different students have different purposes and require different treatment.


However, I do really want to know the reason(s) they quit.


Learning what made them drop English courses, will help me create a learning environment that won’t resemble the old one.


The main reason for quitting a course is lack of motivation. Another reason is that the learner is not sure what s/he is going to do in the future and whether English would be useful to them.


I had students who wanted to brush up their English because they wanted to visit the UK. After returning from the trip though, they didn’t continue. I had students who wanted to refresh their English to communicate with boyfriends or girlfriends and stopped when the relationship broke up.   


Lack of time is also important. To accommodate English lessons in your daily programme is not always an easy task. Especially when lessons become more demanding and additional time and effort is required. Many adult learners quit when they realise that they have to devote many more study hours than they initially thought.


Some adults say they quit because they didn’t have the chance to practice English in real life and so motivation was lost.


When adults come back to school it’s for a reason –most of the time it’s work demands/promotion etc. or university study purposes.


I will not go into details how I teach them, but what I always do with my adult re-starters, is to cultivate their intrinsic motivation. If learning is enjoyable then motivation increases substantially.


I make my lessons more personal, and more flexible: more personal in order to remind them of the reason they took the course and more flexible to avoid boredom. Sometimes we may even have an outside class lesson. In order to make it more interesting and relate the lesson to real life scenarios, it has happened to go shopping in Ermou Street with my adult learners pretending we are tourists. I know it may sound ridiculous to many people, but it was fun and they used the language in authentic situations.


Learning and Motivation are inseparable. As a teacher I always try to keep in mind that nothing motivates like success and nothing demotivates like continual failure.


By building a good teacher- student rapport, and showing interest in their doings, we built trust.


To conclude, restarters have a reason for coming back to school. It is up to us not to destroy their motivation but make them love the process of learning.