Teens on Campus English Lessons

What’s up, teachers! 

Today’s blog is going to be all about engaging adult students! 

From my personal experience, there are two likely scenarios when it comes to teaching adult students. 

Sometimes, you might find someone extremely talkative. They are animated and are not afraid to ask you questions. They might even talk a lot about their personal life or career!

However, you might also encounter adult students who are quiet and might need a little push to actively participate in the lesson. 

As a teacher, it’s essential to create a classroom environment that fosters engagement and motivation, and it might feel challenging to do that with students who seem shy or might come across as unwilling to participate. 

But don’t worry! In this post, we’ll talk about some useful tips and techniques that can help you keep your adult students interested and motivated as they learn English. 

So, whether you’re a seasoned teacher or just starting, read on to discover some useful insights that can help you make your class engaging and effective! 

1. Understand their goals and interests 

Unlike young learners who might join courses simply because their moms make them, most adult students decide to take an English course because they need English to accomplish a goal. 

Perhaps they want to apply for an oversea scholarship…

Or maybe they need to do an English proficiency test to advance their career…

Whatever their reason for taking an English course might be, it’s essential for you to understand them and find ways to address and incorporate their interests and goals into the lessons. 

When students feel that their goals and interests are being addressed in class, they will be more motivated and engaged to participate in the learning process. This motivation can lead to increased effort and better learning outcomes. 

2. Use real-life examples

Real-life materials help students connect what they learn in the classroom to their lives and experiences, making the learning process more relevant and meaningful. When learners see that they can use English to perform everyday tasks or to communicate with people in many different contexts, you can boost their motivation to learn! 

Real-life materials also provide students with authentic language input. As we know, when we use English in an everyday situation, it won’t always be people with crystal clear voices with very slight or even no accent like the ones we find on listening tracks provided by textbooks. 

We might also encounter slang and pop culture references that just can’t be learned by textbooks. 

So, when learners listen to and practice using language that is used in real-life situations, they can develop the ability to communicate in those situations and understand English in a more nuanced fashion. 

3. Encourage conversations 

Encouraging conversations is extremely helpful for students to develop their language skills and confidence. Here are some ways you can encourage conversation:

  • Divide students into pairs or groups and ask them to discuss topics that are relevant to the study materials as well as their interests 
  • Use role-play to simulate real life situations
  • Incorporate things like video and podcast to the lesson to spark discussion 
  • Ask them to debate something, with half the class taking the pro stance and the other half taking the opposite stance

These activities can provide opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening skills as well as improving their confidence! Practicing to speak English in a supportive environment can definitely go a long way in making our students comfortable to use English and as the class progresses, they’d be less hesitant to speak up and be less embarrassed about making mistakes. 

Conversations also promote critical thinking skills as students engage in discussion and are exchanging their opinions and ideas. This also exposes students to new perspectives that perhaps they haven’t considered before! 

All of these are important in both academic and professional context, as well as in becoming global citizens! 

4. Make learning fun! 

A fun learning environment can go a long way to improve your students’ learning outcomes!

When students are motivated and engaged, they are more likely to retain the information they are learning in class!

So, how can we make learning fun for adult students?

You’d be surprised to learn that it isn’t really different from young learners! Adults love games as much as children. In fact, I’d argue that at times they need games more than young learners do. We all know how stressful and overwhelming  adulthood can be, so why not use their lesson time to give them a bit of a refreshing time? 

Here are some game ideas you can play in your next class:

  • Charades: Ahhh… the classic! In this game, someone has to act out a word or a phrase without speaking and the others must guess what it is. 
  • Taboo: This game requires at least three people. One person selects a word and has to describe it without using certain “taboo” words. The other players must guess the word before the timer runs out! 
  • Scrabble: This classic board game is a fun way to practice spelling and vocabulary. Players take turns placing tiles on a board to form words. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins!
  • Scavenger hunt: You should create a list of items that your students need to find – using English clues, of course!

And a lot more! 

5. Give them personalized feedback 

To get your adult students involved in the classroom, it’s important to give them personalized feedback! 

Personalized feedback can help you build rapport with your students. When you take time to give them individualized feedback, it shows that you care and are invested in their learning.

Personalized feedback also shows that you are paying attention to each of your students’ strengths and areas for improvement. This allows students to focus on improving on areas where they need improvement. 

Not only does personalized feedback help students improve their language skills, but it also shows them that their efforts are being recognized and valued. This can be a great motivator for them to continue learning and reach their goals!

So, make sure to take time to provide your students with individualized feedback. They’ll appreciate it more than you know! 


Ultimately, the most important thing to engage your adult students is to foster a supportive learning environment when your students feel comfortable making mistakes and trying new things! Don’t forget to celebrate small wins and progress along the way, and have fun! 

Good luck! 

Do you want to develop yourself as an educator?

At IELC, we give you the opportunity to join a great team, develop yourself, and make a difference to Indonesia’s future by teaching English the right way to the next generation of English learners. 

You will also get access to continuous training and professional development and get to meet fantastic, like-minded colleagues and team members. 

Take the first step to enjoy a supportive and fun working environment, develop yourself, and get a rewarding job with IELC.


Anthony McCormick 

IELC Managing Director