English for adults - how to teach and design educational strategies


What can we dissemble - a person acquires a true motivation for learning foreign languages at a certain age, reaching maturity. Along with the awareness of his adulthood, a person has motives for mastering the missing knowledge and competencies. And this is where the confusion begins: the old school methods of teaching will not work, since the "learner" is now experienced, motivated and conscious. How to choose the appropriate foreign language learning strategy for both the teacher and the student? This choice will help to take into account the psychological characteristics of an adult student.

Life experience

Adults have rich life experiences, and when they bring this into the classroom, they enrich the learning experience for the entire class. Teachers comment that adult students are excellent students who do not miss classes, as they are always happy to talk about their experiences and give their opinions on a wide range of issues.

High motivation

Adult learners usually do not require a certificate or diploma, or their motivation is an integral part of the learning process. They may study for intellectual enjoyment, socialize with their peers, or because that's what they've always wanted to do. In fact, adults are very often more motivated than schoolchildren or students. Their high level of motivation is a great advantage as it is identified as one of the most important factors in stimulating successful language learning. The motivation of adults is reflected in the fact that they rarely miss classes and are very active in the discussion.


Scientists have found that adults who attend English classes have a strong social component. They often attend classes to connect with their peers, forming very strong friendships and socializing together after class and even during their free time.


Adults have an extremely positive attitude towards language learning and life in general. They treat their teachers and classmates with the utmost respect and courtesy. Teachers often remark on how kind, considerate, and hardworking adult students are and what a pleasure they must be to teach.

Thus, life experience, motivation to learn and positive attitude of adults provide them with many advantages as language learners. However, there are cognitive, affective and physiological factors that can affect language learning in adults. We will try to identify these factors and then look at how courses and methods can be adapted to meet the needs of adults.


Research shows that cognitive development, memory retention, and problem solving may decline with maturation/aging. To overcome this cognitive decline, which can make learning a new language difficult, educators can help adults develop and maintain their cognitive abilities in a number of ways:

  • Integration of memory exercises in the classroom. Visual and auditory mnemonics, examples and associations should be used to help adults repeat and then retrieve vocabulary and expressions from long-term memory.
  • Systematically repeat and rework grammar, vocabulary and expressions.
  • Encourage students to use their rich experience and cognitive strategies that they have successfully applied in the past and in their current language learning environment.
  • Allow more time for students to create speech without pauses.

Maintaining Self-Confidence / Reducing Stress

Many adult learners fear failure and are more concerned about it than schoolchildren. Perhaps this is because they accept the stereotype of the adult learner as a bad learner, or because of previous failed attempts at learning a foreign language. Adults need to feel comfortable and trust the teacher and other students before fully participating in the class. The key role of the teacher is to reduce anxiety and build trust and self-confidence in the adult learner. Here are some of the things educators can do to reduce stress and build confidence in adult learners:

  • Find out what adult learners' motivations are for language learning and adjust your methodology accordingly.
  • Use humanistic methods to maintain interaction between teacher and students and between students.
  • Reduce focus on correcting errors to increase student confidence and language production.
  • Avoid routine tests that may cause anxiety in adults.
  • Give adults more time to complete activities.
  • Promote a friendly and relaxed atmosphere in the classroom.

Any difficulties that adult learners may experience in a language school can be overcome by adjusting the learning environment and material, paying attention to physical, affective and cognitive factors, and using an effective teaching methodology that focuses on the learning process rather than academic achievement.