Advice for Teaching Adults

by Helene J. Uchida

  1. Be prepared for class with a simple, constructive lesson plan that builds on a weekly basis.
  2. Introduce one new vocabulary word per class. Write the word on the blackboard with a sample sentence. Ask the students to make a simple sentence for homework.
  3. Enable students to help each other succeed in class.
  4. Teach survival English to beginners, such as: How do you say_____? How do you spell_____? How do you say _____ in English? How do you say _____ in Japanese? What do you say when _____?
  5. Orchestrate activities and exercises that encourage students to speak to each other in English as opposed to only speaking English to you.
  6. Don’t condescend to beginners; this is the most powerful group with the most potential. Develop the art of teaching simply in a sophisticated way.
  7. Don’t let intermediate or advanced students become satisfied with their level. There is the danger of langauge fossilization with satisfaction.
  8. Write notes to your students, such as birthday cards or get well cards. Congratulate them on a promotion or a trip abroad. Give them words of support or encouragement as much as you can.
  9. Each time your students leave your class, they should leave with something they did not have when they walked in. It could be a new vocabulary word, expression, idiom, culture point or information. Attending your class should be like putting change in a piggy bank. The more change they have, the happier they will be.
  10. Just as you have helped the veteran or more advanced students, encourage them to help the newer, weaker ones. One cannot speak English alone. We all need each other to create an English speaking opportunity.
  11. Remember that the barometer of good teaching is you. If you enjoy the class, the students do also.