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Activities for adult learners. Online teaching

Learning is a lifelong process however the way we learn, absorb, and apply information changes in each stage of our lives. A classroom is a community where teachers and students form empowering and enriching relationships. Education does not have to be direct instruction all the time, a student-centered class environment facilitates adult learning. Mature students are self-driven goal-focused learners. They like to be involved in their learning experiences.

What Kind of Activities Can You Run to Engage your Learners?

Fun, interactive activities not only keep the adult learners engaged, but they also encourage better concentration and retention. Here are some ideas that can help students relieve stress, become more confident and enjoy their learning journey:


Adult learners or mature students bring the richness of life experiences to the class, on the flip side, these same experiences may sometimes fuel inhibitions. Fear of failure or being judged can interfere with their learning.  Icebreakers are a great way to help your students relax. They also promote bonding and motivation. Have you tried 2 Truths and a lie, Would you rather, If I were a,,,, , rapid fire quiz or interviews ?

Team building and IBrainstorming activities:

Mystery or problem-solving activities are another great way to get your learners involved and develop critical thinking. Working in small groups helps students reflect on and validate their newly acquired skills, nurture relationships and promote peer learning.


Discussion starters:

Topic-relevant pictures or questions can be used to initiate one-on-one or group discussions. Such discussions give students an opportunity to share their opinions, apply their prior knowledge to new learning and become more confident.

Revision games: 

You can design cloze (fill in the blanks) activities to reinforce grammar, use charades or riddles to revise vocabulary, and tongue twisters to practice pronunciation. Revisiting learning material at regular intervals promotes better retention by giving students an opportunity to access and apply the new knowledge


Tips for using games with adult online English students

You may have read a lot about the benefits of using games or activities in class but using random activities could be counterproductive. 

Activities used in class should be in line with students’ interests and learning objectives. Students should be able to identify the benefits of such activities. You may lose students if they feel that the learning activities are not purposeful or result-oriented.

When you are planning activities for a multi-cultural or a mixed ability class make sure that these are level-appropriate, inclusive, and culturally appropriate. Here are some ideas that will hold you in good stead: 

Explain the rules of the game:

Keep the activities simple and explain the rules clearly. Students may become overwhelmed if the activity is too complicated or they do not understand the rules. 

Manage a time:

Time management is crucial to ensure all students get a fair chance and do not feel left out.

Have a “plan B”:

Be prepared to improvise if the original activity does not go as planned.  

Provide feedback:

Timely feedback is very important. Evidence of progress and value addition keeps adult learners motivated Not only does it help teachers assess their student’s progress but also evaluates the effectiveness of their own teaching methods.


Practical and engaging learning experiences optimize learning outcomes. When you are teaching adult learners, you have to step away from being a traditional teacher and become more of a facilitator. It is important to create a respectful, supportive environment that facilitates independent learning.


What do you do to keep adult students engaged? Please share your ideas in the comments below.


Written by Preeti Lamba


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