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How to teach adults?

Teaching adults is very different to that of teaching children. It is important that the teacher of adults understands the principles needed and these differences from those required for teaching children.

Why are they learning?

It is important to know why adults are attending your classes. They understand the importance of learning and its benefits. They can learn freely using their own techniques. They will usually have a positive approach towards learning. Necessity
Most adult learners will be in your classroom because they want to be there. Some will be there as a part of an educational requirement or to qualify for a work related certificate. They are all there to learn because they want to learn.

How to get your message across

Different students learn in different ways, so it is important to use different styles in your teaching to allow for this.
Visual aids
Some adult learners learn best through visual aids such as graphs, diagrams or illustrations. This type of student will study and learn from any handouts you provide. Instruction-based learning
Other students learn best from your auditory instructions and will listen to your every word. These same students will often be the best ones in the class to respond to your questions, so get them involved with question and answer sessions about the subject you are teaching. Practical coursework
A third group of students learn best from role play or physically seeing examples of what you may be teaching. If you need a volunteer to assist you in a section of a demonstration, these are the students who will benefit the most.

Qualities of students

Most students will use a mixture of each of these qualities during the learning process. Until you know your students' individual qualities, it is best to conduct these learning sessions in groups. This can be in the form of discussions, experiments, role play or even writing or drawing. It can be anything that keeps them interested and motivated to learn.


By showing your students the respect of their knowledge or life experiences, you can easily tap into the wisdom they each hold whenever appropriate. As long as the topic does not stray too far from its objectives this knowledge can be a great ice breaker particularly in the early days of a class. If a question is asked, even though it is not up for discussion, delaying to answer it until later may make you miss the chance to discuss it, especially if your students lose interest afterwards.

Listen as well as teach

Give plenty of encouragement
They may have been away from the classroom style of learning for many years, and listening and encouragement can go a long way. Always encourage but do not condescend.

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