4 Powerful Strategies for Teaching Adults English as a Second Language

women with brown hair smiling and wearing green sweater with purple scarf in front of laptop holding diagram for teaching adults English as a second language online with 4 powerful strategies and using values-based leadership in classrooms by Suzanne Marie



Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Struggling to find the right approach for teaching adults English as a second language? This blog post shares four powerful strategies to help you achieve your goals.

Teaching Adults English as a Second Language

Teaching adults English specifically for business communication requires a dynamic approach. Interactive activities, incorporating various media and technologies, and conversation practice are all essential components to ensure successful learning outcomes.

Teaching adult students takes a different approach than teaching children. For adult learners, meaningful conversations and interactive activities are the most effective ways to capture attention and ensure successful learning.

With the right strategies, teachers can create English lessons that inspire enthusiasm and engage students in authentic English language practice.

Create Engaging Activities

Creating engaging activities is one of the best strategies for teaching adults English as a second language. Activities should be interactive and stimulating, with an emphasis on communication.

Examples of activities include role-plays, discussion questions, book talks, or debates, focusing on topics related to your student’s interests. In addition, activities should challenge students without overwhelming them and provide them with opportunities to practice their language skills in meaningful ways.

Creating Lessons for Proficiency

When creating activities for teaching adults, it is crucial to keep in mind your student’s level of English proficiency. For example, suppose a student’s language skills are beginner-level. In that case, your activities should focus on basics like grammar and vocabulary.

For intermediate or advanced learners, activities can delve into deeper topics, such as complex grammar points and content-based approaches to learning.

Knowing the language level of your students is key to designing activities that work for them. The right activity can be fun and conversationally stimulating while genuinely allowing students to practice their English skills.

Conversationally stimulating exercises make the learning process more enjoyable and provide better results.

How to Structure English Lessons for Business Communication

To teach adults English business communication skills:

  1. Start by focusing on grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure basics.
  2. Introduce your students to basic concepts in business writing, such as clarity and conciseness.
  3. Once your students have a strong foundation in grammar and vocabulary, move on to more advanced topics such as presentation skills and cross-cultural communication.

Basic English Language Skills

When teaching adults English business communication skills, it is vital to start with grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. These crucial elements of the English language will give them the foundation they need to be successful in communication.

Business Writing Skills

After covering the basics of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, you can focus on honing your students’ ability to communicate effectively in a professional setting. Adult English language learners appreciate lessons with more complex concepts like email etiquette and small talk focusing on writing skills.

Focusing on writing skills is important for adult English language learners. Teaching them how to write clear, concise emails and reports with clarity and focus will help them communicate more effectively in a professional setting.

Business Communication Skills

Another way to help adult English language learners improve their communication skills is to teach them how to give presentations. Public speaking based on clearly writing their intended message will help them feel more confident when communicating with others in a business setting.

With the proper foundation, adults can communicate effectively in any business setting.

Integrate Media and Technology 

Technology and media are integral to our daily lives and should be incorporated into English lessons with adult learners. Utilizing the latest tools, such as blogs or social media, can help facilitate collaboration, spark discussions, or offer various perspectives.

Incorporating audio and video clips into your English lesson topics helps support language development and diversify your approach to teaching. Related websites, technology apps, or gaming activities can add an extra layer of depth to classroom activities and make learning fun and interesting.

Giving adult learners access to digital tools helps make lessons more engaging, relevant, and meaningful. For example, text, audio, and video files are all easily shareable online, so students can easily collaborate or access online resources during the lesson.

This blog post shares digital tools helpful for teaching adults English as a second language:

In addition, teaching adults with video calls or conference apps such as Skype or Zoom allow educators to connect with distant students or host a virtual field trip or conference without ever having to leave the classroom.

Incorporating technology into your English lessons opens up a world of possibilities for adult English learning.

Encourage Conversations Among Learners

Encouraging learners to engage in conversations with each other provides opportunities for more meaningful language development. Consider ways of structuring conversations between English language learners, such as pairing up learners, facilitating group discussions, or offering a platform for sharing ideas.

In addition, learners should be encouraged to express their thoughts and opinions freely and share their cultural backgrounds. Doing so improves their English speaking skills and creates a welcoming environment that builds trust and encourages collaboration.

One way to encourage conversations among learners is by giving them topics to discuss. Either assign a conversational topic at the end of each lesson or offer interesting conversation starters that encourage learners to think critically and express their ideas in English.

Additionally, teaching with visuals is used for learners to describe objects and exchange opinions about them in English. Not only does this give students chances to practice speaking the language, but it also makes lessons more engaging and interactive.


Teaching English as a second language to adults for professional use can be quite challenging. Creating an engaging lesson plan with efficient communication teaching tools, such as media and technology, is essential.

Additionally, encourage conversation among students and foster in-depth discussions so everyone can practice their English-speaking skills.

With the right approach, you can help your students enhance their business English ability and be ready for the global economy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Before you go, browse our Shop of ESL lessons for adults with teaching materials: Shop.

Until next time,


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