How to Handle Awkward Adult ESL Students

How to Handle Awkward Adult ESL Students

Adult ESL students are tricky.  Their needs range from practicing English as a hobby, to studying ESL for university entrance exams, all the way to ESL for business. 

Basically, adult English students have a ton of different goals.  And they're a really diverse type.

But you've got to be careful.  Unlike children ESL students, adult ESL students aren't forced to study in your class.  If you're a public school or academy teacher, kids are mandated by the government (or their mothers) to attend your class.  And you can easily win them over with simple games (like an ESL Bingo Game which we made for FREE!!! or ESL Mafia Game which we also made for free).

That's not the case with adults.


So if there's anything that your adult students don't like about your class, and trust me, I mean ANYTHING, then they'll quit.  Quicker than you can down a bottle of Soju at the local convenience store, your unhappy adult students will be out the door.

It's your job, as a teacher, to figure out why.

And unfortunately for us, sometimes the cause isn't as simple as "I'm busy" or "I want to take a break"... sometimes it's because there's a super duper awkward student in class. 

Nobody wants to study with socially awkward adult students.


As a teacher in an adult ESL public program, you might be able to handle this situation with a few simple solutions.  I'm going to tell a few below, but make sure you check out our video above and below for the full scoop.

1. Give your awkward student a chance to become... well, less awkward.  Pair him up with your kind students and let the awkwardness vanish

2. If your adult student violates other ESL students' personal boundaries, then you've got to protect them.  Minimize the awkward students contact with others by ONLY pairing them with you during activities. 

3. Oh... I should've probably mentioned this earlier: only do Pairwork activities.  Use a lesson like our Free Have You Ever, Present Perfect Simple activity.  And during pairwork, the awkward student won't have the chance to ruin group activities.

If you are a private teacher or own your own academy, the solutions are even easier...

1. Place the student into private 1:1 classes.

2. Don't renew their contract when their payment date is up.


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