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Liberal Adult Education

Tamar Mikeladze
Ed.D, English Language Teaching Methodology Telavi State University, Georgia

Erasmus Mundus Grantee, Post Doc researcher, University of Turku


Why Adult education?

Liberal Adult education and benefits

Literature review and current research among language teachers


Adult education and training is provided by some 800 institutions in Finland Liberal adult education is not degree-oriented, nor is its content regulated by law Instead, educational goals and content are decided upon by the administrators of educational institutions and organizations (Anderzn, 2012)

Benefits of Adult education

Every adult is a learner (Jarvis, 1995)
Basic human need

Benefits in economic, social and political domains (OECD, 2003) Brain research confirms the wider benefits of learning, especially for ageing populations (OECD
Education Working Papers, 2012)

There are individual and social benefits from learning non-native languages (Languages in a Global
World: Learning for Better Cultural Understanding, 2012)

Video clip of Adult Education offered by the Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Participation in non-formal education, by age group (2007)

The report of OECD 2003 Beyond Rhetoric: Adult Learning Policies and Practices
Teachers need to be well trained with the range of adult learning processes and the attendant difficulties and they must choose the most suitable method to particular learners. As society is changeable so are jobs and it is important to reassess teachers jobs and skills, provide a clear definition of responsibilities and redefine priorities in terms of practice, approaches and the skills needed to fully develop their adult learning experience. p. 179

Immigrant Education In Liberal Adult Education Institutions 2010 (by Finnish National Board of Education, the
Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres (KoL)

Teachers must be given training that takes adult immigrants into consideration The state should use these institutions as educational forums and train a few teachers for this purpose.

Factors considered in planning instruction for adults


motivation to read;
instructional, living, and working environments; socio-cultural backgrounds; socioeconomic status; learning abilities or disabilities (Wrigley & Guth, 1992)

Recommendations by OECD
The OECD has identified interrelated areas to help strengthen and develop effective practice, and improve outcomes for adults (2013): Strengthen learner-centred approaches Diversify and deepen approaches to programme evaluation for accountability Devote the necessary resources of people, time and money Strengthen the knowledge base

Evaluation of Foreign Language Courses by Language Instructors in Liberal Adult Education Institutions. 2013

Research goal evaluate teachers attitude towards foreign language programs and adult learners in liberal adult education institutions.

determine what factors influence the successful language program according to teachers views.
Research questions:
What is the attitude of instructors toward the language programs?
What are strengths and weaknesses of these language courses?

What can be changed in these language programs?

Research strategy & Method

Survey which is used to gather and describe the attitudes, views and opinions (Brown & Rogers, 2005)

Interviews an interview schedule or structured interview, which included open-ended questions and prompts for the interviewer to use. (Denscombe, 2003)

7 teachers from Turku Adult Education Center, 2 from Arbis and 1 teacher from Aurala. Procedures

Questions for the interview were divided in 4 categories: 1) personal data 2) teaching experience

3) description/characteristics of target language course

4) teachers attitude, characteristics and views about learners in class

Data Analysis
1 male and 9 female teachers
Finnish - 7, Russian - 1, Dutch -1, Estonian -1
Age groups
4 4 3 2 1 0 below 40 N 40 - 50
Overall teaching experience 16.3 years

3 N

above 50
Overall teaching experience 24.6 years

Finnish, English, Estonian, French, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, and Russian language courses MA degree 7 teachers, BA degree 3 teachers Teaching experience at the adult education center
N Teachers
8 6 4 2 0 0-10 from 11 above years to 20 20 years years N Teachers

Description of the language courses

Intensive courses

last 2 months and classes are three times a week with the duration of 120 minutes.
regular courses

24 weeks of instruction. Classes are once a week with the duration of 90 minutes.

Effective teaching
Examples of Effective teaching

Yes - 8 teachers, Not sure 2 teachers

All explanations are done in the learners native tongue Learners, who have family members in the target language country, communicate with them. Some students went as exchange students there after completing the language course The teacher gives a questionnaire form at the end of each course, and mainly gets positive feedback Learners are able to communicate in a target language and travel to the country of the target language They learn to speak, but it takes years and patience to learn If we compare this learning to which happens in formal environment, then it is not so effective. The goal here is different; it is more connected to leisure and fun. However the result is always visible. Mini-checks are utilized after each unit; they show how well the student knows the material. If students are willing to work, then they have results. If students do not do homework then it is very difficult to teach language. Teaching is effective when students start asking their own questions. Students seem to be happy. The progress is visible.

Goal, Satisfaction, effective vs. ineffective

Goal yes (7), no (3) satisfaction very much (7), just satisfactory (3)
Frequency Speaking activities combination of different activities vocabulary activities 3 1

depends on learners mood discussion topics with students of low educational background

Frequenc y 1 1 1 1 2 2 1

reading unknown texts, games creative activities, speaking, pair-work audio, video, writing activities

1 1 1

Writing and listening activities

No ineffective activities activities not related to language learning discussion with students whose vocabulary is poor

audio, writing activities

group-work, problem-solving, games, listening activities Total

teacher reading the passage, which has the audio

recording as well Total

1 10


Learners complaints
6 teachers answered that their students had some kind of complaints Textbooks / Design of textbooks not enough exposure to the target language

Fast/slow pace
Not understandable audio material Eager for more homework

Teachers beliefs
8 teachers believe - students like the course very much 2 teachers think that the learners like the course. Factors that influence learners positive attitude are a teacher, learning environment and learning outcome. Feedback verbal and written forms students want proceed to the next level of the course or recommend the course to someone else.

Conducive factors to learning

The successful factors were divided into 2 groups related to the teacher and the teaching process.
According to the teachers answers the language courses are successful if the teacher: According to the teachers answers the teaching process is successful if: The textbook is chosen properly

is the native speaker of the target language

has rich experience

chooses diverse materials: internet resources and applications (moodle), songs

There are excursions to the target

language country There is different approach to teaching, e.g. tandem-teaching There is freedom for learners in the

is aware of the target language culture

is motivated
offers task-based activities prepares main and supplementary materials

classroom and group environment is

favorable Instructional language is native to learners Interaction happens freely It is a social event with elements of fun

Learners questions are answered

Students can discuss content of the course The course has appropriate length

Negative factors
The teacher cannot communicate well in instructional language and has difficulty in explaining material e.g. grammar The group is big, too much noise and not all learners have a chance to participate in classroom activities Younger learners want to proceed faster but older learners struggle with the current material Too much communication in the instructional language between learners and the teacher. Learners ask questions in the instructional language In the beginning there is mainly grammar instruction, which is difficult There are few instructional hours in a week (but perhaps more hours would be difficult for learners) which is not enough for language practice and retention The students miss classes. Even though there are online resources of the course, students do not study at home and they have to cope with the missed material. The teacher has little experience and she/he is not self-confident in the classroom The classes are in the evening, and teacher is usually tired at that time. The writing is not practiced with senior citizens.

Students attendance
Students miss classes Students inform teachers about absence and the reason.

To the question how many students out 100% will finish

the course, 5 teachers - about 80% of the students in their groups are expected to complete the course, 4 teachers varies between 60% and 80%

Reasons for working at the adult education centers

1) teachers main job 2) additional income - I need money 3) attractive working conditions 4) maintaining foreign language skills by teaching it.

Proposed changes to the courses

Increase instructional hours Reduce the group size Use instructional language less; add next level to the course Introduce Tandem-teaching; create facebook page of the course Change a textbook with better one Move into a bigger classroom as it is hard to move around for pair-work Use more target language in the classroom and involve students in discussions Give more chances to learners to develop writing Organize a project where learners can talk to native speakers Use computers and audio equipment at the center

Teacher training is one solution for the teachers who start work and do not have any guidance. Senior teachers can organize training or discussions to share their experience with young teachers.

Second, the communication between the teachers and course administrators/organizers should be improved.
Classroom size Group size Computer technologies (trainings/supply)

Attitudes to adult teaching

Teachers like giving the language course to adults a job which offers less stress, less responsibility and less control low reimbursement can cause teachers low motivation and lack of goal-oriented planning Dangerous judgments which are widespread among language teachers of adults: This course is for fun, it is learners hobby - can cause superficial approach to teaching learners come not only for leisure, but they value learning and have certain goals

Establish teacher-learner rapport

Teachers are facilitators in achieving these goals. the relationship of trust - a relationship which can be rich and rewarding since both teachers and learners are adults. Teachers should try to establish a friendly, open atmosphere for positive and meaningful educational experience, set the degree of difficulty high enough to challenge participants, but not to frustrate them by information overloading. Teachers of adults should explore multiple explanations of what adult learning is.

Working with adults is more demanding. They ask difficult questions. With adults it is difficult, they judge you and sometimes pretend that they understand, unlike children This is an only job that I could get. Would prefer a better job. Its not easy to get a permanent job. I like to work with adults and also sleep in the morning. Very pleasant work, no stress, the pace is slow and it is fun.

Thank you

Anderzn, J. (2012). Immigrant Education in liberal Adult Education Institutions 2010. Finnish National Board of Education and Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres (Kol). Burt, M., Peyton, J., K., & Adams, R. (2003). Reading and Adult English Language Learners. A Review of the Research. Center for Applied Linguistics. Denscombe, M. (2003). The Good Research Guide for Small-scale Social Research Projects. Open University Press. p. 166. Falasca, M. (2011). Barriers to adult learning: Bridging the gap Australian Journal of Adult learning. Vol. 51, November, p. 584. Freedman, L. (1987). Quality in continuing education. Jarvis, P. (1995). Adult and continuing education. Theory and practice. 2 nd ed. Routledge OECD, 2003. Beyond Rhetoric: Adult Learning Policies and Practices

The OECD Perspective. Education Today 2013. DOI:10.1787/edu_today2013-en

Schmidt, S. W. (2013). The future of adult education. Adult learning vol.24 N2, p. 79-80

Wrigley, H. S. & Guth, G.J.A. (1992). Bringing literacy to life: Issues and obstacles in adults ESL literacy: San Mateo, CA: Aguirre International.