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10 Useful Tips - Teaching Adults and the Elderly

Updated on October 5, 2015

This is Part 2 of the Hub: Computer Training – Benefits of introducing the Elderly to IT

I have been teaching Adults and the elderly for just over 10 years now from 18 to 70 and it’s given me a lot of experience. I have also learnt a lot in my journey and would like to share it with any one who is thinking of Teaching Adults or the Elderly. Apart from Assessing NVQ's, I teach I T Software and ESOL, so it’s based on that.

Useful Tips

  • Plan lessons, set objectives and assess if they were met by given exercises and Q & A Sessions. Questions like “do you all understand that?” is not advisable, as some really don’t, but wouldn’t want to make it obvious. I remember asking someone if she had understood something and she said “yes” while shaking her head.
  • Check they remember the last session. Recap before proceeding with the class or session.
  • Some humour in lessons. It lightens the atomosphere and people learn quicker when they are not all tensed up. (more of this below)
  • Be patient. Sometimes you will have to explain something more than once. Some are fast learners, some are slow. Learning paces will differ.
  • Break if stressed, if someone is trying to be a pain in the “what’s it called”. Instead of showing signs of being angry/upset, politely call for a 10 minute coffee break. Some might want to stay in class, which is fine, but make them aware that there is a 10min break, as you might not be in the room. We are all human. It could be that the person got out of bed on the wrong side that day and in most cases they would apologise later. (Hopefully, situations like this would be rare).

Photo taken on the last day - One of my ESOL Classes (Learners brought in lots of food)

  • Smile. It’s reassuring and it makes you approachable – When I was in my Teens, my French teacher used to frown a lot and shout to the class “silance”. I never ever wanted to ask him any questions. I’m sure some people relate to that.
  • Respect them. Don’t make them feel stupid. E.g comments like “like I told you before” or saying “Jeez” or “my goodness!!” under your breath. Huffing and Puffing. I’ve seen it happen and noticed such learners don’t like to ask for help again and then get behind in learning or quit the Course. (If this happens a lot, you could be seen as having a Low retention of Students)
  • Always check to see how they are doing. E.g in I T Sessions, you could be at one end of the class with learners, which means some people are left working on their own. Call out to such people. A simple“ Maria, are you okay?” is reassuring. People don’t like to feel neglected or maybe I should change that to people easily feel neglected.
  • IT and ESOL sessions are normally approx 3 hrs which also includes a coffee break. Take the break, leave the room. If you stay people will engage you in conversation however, sometimes it can’t be helped. A short break really helps and refreshes you for the next hour or so, especially if you have 16 – 20 people in your class, with no Teaching Assistant.
  • Feedback - If they have done an exercise terribly - it's not really a good idea to tell them what they have done is really bad. It can knock confidence and remember there are others "half listening". When I am in such situations, I say something along the lines of - "Well, at least you made an effort, try doing it again....". I might also do a quick reminder of how the exercise should be done or pair them up with someone and they are very willing to give it another go.

I enjoy teaching Adults. It's a rewarding job and lovely that lots of them are still in touch with me, years after they have left my class. I learn from them too e.g few phrases of their languages and bits about their culture. (◕‿◕)



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    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you Lynn.

    • profile image

      lynn liang 6 years ago

      To teach the family online, especially the elderly, the homepage is very important. Started with my in-laws, I setup a webpage with all the top sites so parents need not dig through all their favorites.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Sweetie - that's true. Computers have taken over.

      So lovely to see you here. Thanks so much.

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 7 years ago from India

      Hi lady E nice blog. Well i haven't seen it but i have heard in India in 70s they started adult teachin gprog in which illetrate adults were given classes and were tought how to read and write. It was very sucessful and best part was they were tought after their working hours. These days it is computers as you pointed out.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Hi Issey

      It's normal for students to learn/be at different levels. My advice would be to split the class into advanced and basic knowledge. Plan for them accordingly.

      Also, learners should be assessed before starting a class. If this was done, you would have been able to split them into levels.

      Another option would be to create an extra 1 or 2 hours a week for the basic learners or give them a workbook to work along with at home. They will soon catch up.

      Good luck.

    • profile image

      Issey 7 years ago

      I have a question and would need your advise. I am an IT trainer and has to conduct classes with EXAM. At times, students come for my Advanced class but they don't have good basics knowledge of the subject. As there is an EXAM to be conducted at the end of the course, I have to finish the syllabus within the time frame. With some slow learners in such class, I would have a problem and I have to repeat and repeat and I may have to rush to finish my syllabus in the end. The students will always blame the trainer being too fast and not them being slow. Please advise how I can handle this situation.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks so much stars439.

      Your kind words melt my heart.

      Best Wishes


    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      You are a wonderful teacher, and person to be so considerate to others. You are our sweet darling earth angel, and sugar pie. :)

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks so much for your comments Caregiver. That's true, what you wrote about effects of a change in mood.

      Best Wishes.

    • CareGiverPartners profile image

      CareGiverPartners 8 years ago from National

      I like that you added humor into the equation. When learning something new (especially when there is personal doubt with regards to learning it) it's important to counter uncertainty with levity. A change in mood brings a more constructive approach. Bravo!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. Always a pleasure to hear from you. :)

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 8 years ago

      Lady E, Wonderful hub! Great insightful tips! I am so proud of you! No doubt you have acquired much wisdom, patience and humor from teaching adults! How interesting my children and husband are in the IT field. I have a family of "computer heads"

      By the way luv the "body karma story!" Thank you for sharing, Much Love & Blessings!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks Lita. lol.

      Lovely to read from you. Best Wishes. :)

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks Lita. lol.

      Lovely to read from you. Best Wishes. :)

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks Lita. lol.

      Lovely to read from you. Best Wishes. :)

    • profile image

      Lita C. Malicdem 8 years ago

      Lady_E, I couldn't help but laugh out loud here. You're really a genius, Ma'am! I'm an elderly now, but not yet on the stage your wards are at. Really ! But I imagine you having the best of times explaining why there wasn't any reward there. I hope you were forgiven. LOL !

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Hello Duchess, Thanks for your warm comments. Please feel free to use/share any of my Hublinks. That's what they're there for.

      Best Wishes.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      Lady_E, I loved this hub. You would be the teacher I asked for if I had the opportunity! I need serious patience when I am trying to learn.

      It reminds me of my own teaching days. Do you mind if I link it to my Seniors Hub?

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      ** Hi Bingskee, sometimes it can be a challenge especially when you have Men from particular parts of the world that Women don't tell them what to do. lol. but it they mellow later on. Thanks for your comments.

      ** Hello Kate. Thanks for your comments. I wish you success in your Certification next year. is a website you might find useful. It's for Teachers and it's interactive. Best wishes.

    • kateperez profile image

      kateperez 8 years ago from pasadena, tx

      Very excellent tips. I am going to be taking my certification to be a teacher next year, so this is very timely for me.

      Thank you so much!

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      to be able to get the students interest is success. and it is truly a challenge to have adult and elderly students.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Hello Roy, Dohn, Laura, Cindy and Andromida. Thanks for your comments and what you've shared. It's very interesting.

      Best wishes, Elena.

      Ps. Dohn, I'm glad Fiery popped round.

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 8 years ago

      Great tips, lady_E. I never have the opportunity to interact with adult students in a class room, but I have experience of IT teaching with young students.I found that young students specially smart ones can give very hard time to instructors.I like your tips very much.I have seen that in teaching specially in IT field if we put real life examples/models or even visit to IT related industry makes learning process very attractive to the students.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Good advice Lady E, I'd add one more thing, vary the lessons and make them fun!

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 8 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub Lady E - I tutored University Students a while ago and I agree with everything you said in this Hub. Unfortunately I would not have fooled any students with the "Computer sensing your body Karma" story but I enjoyed reading about yours.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I can tell by reading this that you are an effective and competent teacher in your field! Thanks for sharing this with us, as this is a universal approach to teaching, period.

      BTW, thanks for giving Fiery the head's up about Revenge, Inc. Seems like he's been pretty busy as of late! I appreciate it :D

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Encouraging and appropriate approach – what are described in nutshell is very useful for class teaching. Thanks.


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