Our aim when teaching a language is to ensure that our students get the adequate tools, as we find innovative ways to introduce the target language. But most of the time, we forget to include them in the process. Teachers should always encourage their adult students to partake in the decision making of what the course will include and how it will be imparted. Furthermore, teachers should prompt them to take charge of their own learning. Thus, they will be more likely to remain motivated over time.
Coaching helps students have clear goals.
Most adult learners study a language due to work related reasons; either to get a promotion or in a bid to interact with international business counterparts and deal with them in the target language. Teachers should help them establish realistic expectations about setting clear goals and agree on a timeframe. It happens often that the learners take a back sit expecting that the teacher provides everything: the lessons, the materials and they come up with little and no input from them.
It is important to be aware of students’ expectations and ensure that they are realistic. Some students think that “a few lessons” will be enough to reach the level of expertise required from them in their new language. Coaching in these cases help them draw a comprehensive plan.
Coaching also guides students towards autonomy.
If the learners aim is to be able to communicate with their business colleagues, it is more than evident that improving their communication skills will be their priority. The usual 1-hour-a-week session won’t suffice to guaranty considerable improvements.
The teacher should trigger in the learner the answer to how they think they will achieve their goals. It is evident that they will need to dedicate extra time and resources to practice the language. So, learners also take responsibility for their learning.
Coaching boosts learners' autonomy.
Learners can participate in the curriculum.
They should let the teacher know what topics or subjects they are interested in so that it can be included in their course. The more relevant the lessons are to them, the more motivated they will remain. Besides they might even help curating materials from the world wide web to be included in their sessions so that their study is personalised.
Teachers should encourage learners to think about their learning.
They should analyse what they have learned, how far they have come, and this exercise will also help them evaluate what need to be done next.
They should also have the means to solve their problems when engaged in self-learning.
Teachers should recognise language learning anxiety.
Students often face the challenge of language learning anxiety and at times it is not even apparent. Therefore, teachers should be aware of the potential influence of anxiety on learners. This can impact their performance in a negative way.
For example, imagine a learner who has a good knowledge of the language, knows his grammar, and has an extensive pool of vocabulary knowledge, but freezes every time that he must talk to his international colleagues.
The teacher should help him recognise the symptoms like a raised heart rate, shallow breathing and so on. They should acknowledge it. The teacher should also stress that he already has all that is required to make communication possible. That even if he would forget a word (due to stress), he can use gestures, or explanations and definitions of what he wants to convey. That he shouldn’t give up all together.
When the teacher reminds learners that they already possess the necessary skills to manage this kind of situations, they feel empowered, and they start using these strategies the next time, so they learn to confront and defeat the language learning anxiety.
Language learning anxiety is a real phenomenon.
When using the coaching approach, the teacher becomes a facilitator, and helps the students to develop a growth mindset and cultivate the love for learning. He/she helps them refine and expand the skills that they already have so that they can succeed at learning the new language. Language learning becomes then an enjoyable activity that fuels their long-term motivation.