#ELTchat Summary: Coaching adult students to learn outside the classroom


October 15, 2015 by gemmalunn

This is a summary for the #ELTchat that was held on 30th September the topic was how to coach adult students outside of the classroom. If you are not sure what ELTchat is and want to get involved you can find more information here, I highly recommend it as it’s a great way to chat and swap ideas with teachers all over the world.


This was a lively chat with tons of great ideas for helping students to be more autonomous learners.

Why is it important to coach adults to keep learning outside the classroom?

We have very limited time with them in the classroom, so most of the learning SHOULD happen on their own (@nathanghall)

I was thinking that is important to keep motivation high (if they can learn on their own, sth good is happening) (@angelos_bollas)

We need to give them the tools to show them how to make learning a habit, not just sth in the classroom (@sandymillin)

A good way to give Ss more for their money and help them extend the learning in time and space (@HadaLitim)

Even in Australia SS don’t take the many opps all around them to use English, so need a bit of coaching (@cioccas)

Our role is really to get them to the point that they use L outside anyway (@SueAnnan)

Their time in the classroom is limited so they need to find their own motivation and strategies (@JennyLewinJones)

Sometimes students may only have 60 mins of Eng class a week which alone makes improvement slow (@GemL1)

There’s too much language to cover in class so they can get more out of it outside (@KateLloyd05)

Outside makes the language real (@SueAnnan) and they are exposed to language in use (nathanghall)

Do you keep a record of Student’s work outside of class?

Do you use a progress card or another sheet with them? (@Ashowski)

I encourage them to do things on their own and just report that they have done it. No assignment. (nathanghall)

Learning journal (if not a blog) (@angelos_bollas)

Journal writing went down well with many students too: https://t.co/aK9IAK5o6z  (@sandymillin)

I also do a guided assignment with parameters that they need hand in, but lots of flexibility (nathanghall)

Progress sheet/card/record works fine – in the past i used to call them `”Self Access Menus” worked well (@Marisa_C)

In a moodle set up or edmodo you can keep an eye on Ss’ track record via the system (@Marisa_C)

Luckily tech tools allow students to share their own learning exp while T can also guide and input (@ITLegge)

Learning groups either online or on their mobile phones really helps with motivation (@HadaLitim)

What kinds of activities do you set / suggest?

I use FB groups w/ them. They are always online texting in English and they work much better as a group. Some of them have started their own collaborative blog using wordpress (only with young ones I use kidblogs) (@angelos_bollas)

I’m gradually getting my adult learners to create their own blog challenges! Here is a great example: http://t.co/Rl6uQHzkfF (@tarabenwell):

The Independent English blog is meant to give SS ideas for how to study at home too, though haven’t managed to post much recently! It’s http://t.co/uQu87y8i5b and is now jointly run by me and @lizziepinard so hopefully more posts soon (@sandymillin)

I set up a wiki for our adult free classes – to keep them connected with english outside class (@Marisa_C)

Think whatever you do you have to check in with SS every couple of lessons to make sure they’re doing it (@sandymillin) –

I try to guide them by making workbook for them to do independently. They have answers in back (@KateLloyd05)

I usually give mine “learn the vocab” for h/w as it´s the only way I can think of getting it in their heads. We once looked at different ways to learn vocab and they do it on their own, I “test” them with activities in class (@Ashowski)

One of my friends in China, sets up a games evening once a week (@SueAnnan)

I also like some great learning ‘playlists’ i have found possible in http://t.co/eP23vF6brJ e.g. 1 http://t.co/6xkTeEmNI0 (@Marisa_C)

As well as learn.Js, reading journals work well, Ss r free to read whatever they like then report back on it & share new vocab in class (@GemL1) or listening journals with tools like Ted Talks works well as such a variety for students to choose from.

So 1 of the things we need to do then is give SS lots of options and help them find what works for them, right? (@sandymillin)

I often put new vocab onto Quizlet, have a lesson showing SS how to use it, then ask them to use that to learn it for HW (@sandymillin) – My Quizlet guide: http://t.co/KVE1LaL1mt including links to groups for vocab at different levels quizlet is great and can be done in teams/groups

They should also keep being interested in acquiring new skills, competencies, and getting involved with others in society (@mctalk)

I like http://t.co/T5SukmiVjW (phraseum) alone and with others great for vocab and chunks (@Marisa_C)

I also really like setting a news review spontaneous hotseat activity with B1+ Ss. They need to check the news regularly to be able to share an interesting (excl politics) piece with the class randomly throughout the course (@HadaLitim)

@lizziepinard has loads of stuff on her blog about ways to get SS to study autonomously and also includes tips on how to help SS to track their progress with their own learning (@sandymillin)

Here are some related tips from @ShellTerrell: 7 Ways Learners Can Improve Their English With Technology http://t.co/kgC04PSVKf (@ESLlibrary)

With Ss at @ihnewcastle I would get them to ask their host families questions as h/w – they enjoyed it (@Ashowski)

I try to give HW that is more open-ended as far as due date. Gives them freedom to choose when to do it. Adult Ss appreciate that (@nathanghall)

With some groups the idea of “Challenges’ may work – reading, listening challenges – blog comment (@Marisa_C)

This list might help https://t.co/QWZsDpgQik (@tarabenwell)

Speaking outside the classroom? Where and how do u encourage your adults to do it?

Projects are a great way to have Ss work over a period of time outside class. They work best when stated with weekly task (@HadaLitim)

Speaking outside is a bit harder, but at the minimum they can record themselves and listen back. Saving it and listening back a few months later is a massive motivator when you notice your progress (@sandymillin)

FB groups, Whatsapp groups, Wikis, Class VoiceThread, (Even iMessage groups) (@angelos_bollas)

Good alternative to SM site is @TodaysMeet for short text-based dialogue – no registration needed (@ITLegge)

They can record their partner in class- take the recording home to prepare comments & share with their partner during the next session (@HadaLitim)

Love seeing recorded video chats. Motivates other learners to try! Found this one yesterday: http://t.co/unTW5Sw0w7 (@tarabenwell)

Soundcloud is really growing. Introduce your sts to it for all kinds of listening practice. They can embed easily, too (@tarabenwell)

So, we do encourage learning outside the classroom – how do we coach them to do it, though?

One of my colleagues is doing student workshops on learning to learn – packed out! (@ITLegge)

At the beginning of the course, I spent 1h in class guiding them thru possible online resources (@GlenysHanson) and I’d begin each class by asking them what they’d been doing outside.

Setting goals every few weeks and reviewing this might help (@GemL1)

What about study groups? (@angelos_bollas)

It’s a good idea to have them coach each other – peer coaching. Asking them to share what works with them and explain to groups (@HadaLitim)

In terms of motivating SS, we need to help them to see that there’s not just one way to learn. Find rhythm/tools that work for them and not just guided, but actively encouraged to experiment. Try this…does it work? No? OK, try this…repeat (@sandymillin)

….and not to give up if something doesn’t work, but find something which does (@ITLegge)

J Hadfield’s motivation techniques. Picture self using the L in future. What are you doing, and who with? what is holding you back? (@SueAnnan) – A great summary of an #eltchat on motivation ala Hadfield and Mackay  http://t.co/CwBdpk2OIE (@Marisa_C)

Apps like Wunderlist might work. Simply list what you did each evening and share with class (@ESLlibrary)

This useful too: send yourself a motivating email at diff points during the course! http://t.co/xp99tSNgTG (@ITLegge)

Encourage them to link with own interests eg read Engl article on JK Rowling if like HP novels in L1 (@JennyLewinJones)

Went to a fantastic session on vocab acquisition where Eli Hinkel cheekily recommended “shame motivation”: http://t.co/LrHYnNgXMM (@ESLlibrary)

Do u dedicate class time for persuading and training up?

Asking the right Qs about learning experience. What activity did you do? What did you achieve? How do you feel now etc (@ITLegge)

Not as a separate section.I try to make it an integral part of the lesson e.g. when introducing vocab, show how to record (@sandymillin)

Notes, online support for Qs, follow-up, clear tasks with deadline, info sheets etc (@HadaLitim)

I save written work, podcasts on http://t.co/SYr51lDVb7 – return to it later to create new tasks. V motivating for Ss (@EdLaur)

In some lessons it’s for guided ind. study, in other lessons it’s for short tutorials on progress and action plans (@angelos_bollas)


And to finish I’m naming this tweet of the week from @nathanghall

When they finally ‘get it’, you can see the changes starting to happen. Real growth instead of rote answers

3 thoughts on “#ELTchat Summary: Coaching adult students to learn outside the classroom

  1. Angelos Bollas TEFL says:

    Thank you for the summary! 🙂 I have added a link to the post on #ELTchat summary page. 🙂

  2. […] on from the ELTchat on coaching adult students I wanted to find ways to help these students to improve and practice English outside of […]

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