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Blog criado por Bruno Coriolano de Almeida Costa, professor de Língua Inglesa desde 2002. Esse espaço surgiu em 2007 com o objetivo de unir alguns estudiosos e professores desse idioma. Abordamos, de forma rápida e simples, vários aspectos da Língua Inglesa e suas culturas. Agradeço a sua visita.

"Se tivesse perguntado ao cliente o que ele queria, ele teria dito: 'Um cavalo mais rápido!"

quarta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2013

What are the challenges to instruction of adult English language learners? (Do not expect to find the answer here – you may be disappointed.)

From www.tesall.com

I have realized some very important characteristics in some of my students. I am not saying that I haven’t noticed them before, but only now, I have decided to investigate the possible reasons for lower progress in their language learning.

I’m quite sure that some English teachers read this blog, but not many of them interact or leave comments here. Therefore, I don’t really know what they do think about (some) English language issues. I strongly believe that I’m not the only one to face such challenges. Therefore, I’d like to know a little bit more about those very specific challenges to instruction of adult English language learners and how to solve students achieve their goals.

Having said all above, I have just decided to ‘study’ my students. Yes, that’s right. I have just thought of giving them some tasks in order to understand this language learning process much better. I have no idea of what is going to happen, but I have this crazy strategy of providing them with text in Portuguese and (maybe) in Spanish so that I might be able to compare their understanding in those three languages (okay, maybe their mother tongue and English only).      

It is said that adult English language learners represent significant and diverse population of English language learners throughout the whole globe. Their huge diversity makes it difficult to define what we really mean by ‘adults language learners’ in contrast to, say, ‘children English language learners’ (something I really know almost nothing about).

It should be clear to everyone who has taught (or wants to teach) adults that diversity of age, as well as the diversity of motivations and backgrounds they bring to the task of learning, might represent  the challenges to effective instruction in language learning.

I must have chosen my words poorly, but it is also known that anyone interested in working with adult English language learners should be aware of several key issues. Social backgrounds, possible (language) disability, may be some of the biggest challenges teacher have to face.

It seems that one of the challenges presented by adults who attend English language classes (EFL, in this very specific case) in order to study a new language, is the low ‘literacy skills’ in their mother tongue. Research among both younger and adults English language learners has shown that the ones who “lack comparable formal education in their first language”, say, ‘suffer’ more to learn the second language.
On the basis of "gut feeling”, I suspect that I’ll have some juicy stories to tell here on Portal da Língua Inglesa and I will learn a lot from this kind of experience as well.
I’ve developed (not completely based on my previous experiences) this kind of checklist about both about students’ abilities and competences. This one aims at helping me understand their progress through the course across the whole range of language abilities. Moreover, it will also help me clarify which students are making quicker or slower progress in different areas, and it will assist me in planning my future lessons, or at least it should assist me.
As I think it is not necessary to explain how to use this checklist, I will just publish it here so that you folks will be able read it, apply it and get feedback from students. I have just to remind you that it is all about elementary level (A1-A2 CEFR).


1 = I can do this with a lot of help from my teacher.
2 = I can do this with a little help.
3 = I can do this fairly well.
4 = I can do this really well.
5 = I can do this almost perfectly.


I can use simple structures correctly (simple present and past simple). 
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can make myself understood using memorized phases and single expressions (my name’s…, I’m from… I work at…).                                      
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can describe myself, my family, and other people.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can say what I like and dislike.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can generally identify the topic of a discussion around me when people speak slowly and clearly.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can describe past experiences and personal experiences (e.g. the last weekend, my last vacations).
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I have a sufficient vocabulary to talk to people in everyday situations.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can describe hobbies and interests in a simple way.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can talk about my diet and lifestyle.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can talk about other people’s abilities (she can, he can, they can…).
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can understand the difference between present simple and present continuous (I work, you work, she works; I’m working, he’s working, they’re working…).
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can listen and understand the activities in the classroom (e.g. conversations, listening tasks, pronunciation activities).
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )
I can listen to the teacher and understand his instructions.
1 (   ) 2 (   ) 3 (   ) 4 (   ) 5 (   )

P.S.: I can’t believe how much I’ve grown up this semester! I was skeptical about it in the very beginning. Ever since I was told that I would be teaching elementary students I just started the mantra “failure is not an option”. Actually, I have taught elementary students before, but I have to admit, it is quite challenging – harder than teaching advanced ones, for instance. I would also like to say that in the end, it all boils down to observation and experimentation in context of discovery (if it makes any sense).

Therefore, I’m not punishing or even judging any of my students. In fact, this isn’t even any kind of, say, scientific research – I just hold the opinion that every teacher must try to understand their own students’ needs and progresses in language learning.  

It is quite late now and I need to get some shuteye. Therefore, I hope you people enjoyed this entry. I do hope you have a great night of sleep – I must be off now. See you around, people.


This one was written by Bruno Coriolano. 

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