Adult students for the most part are highly motivated. They attend class of their own free choice usually at some personal and financial sacrifice. Occasional absences are due more to family obligations rather than a lack of motivation.
The motivation of your students may fall into a broad-spectrum distribution.
As an instructor, you need to explore what your students really want. Regardless of the motivation adult students come with, genuine concern for the student, an enjoyable class and a sense of progress will increase motivation once the students are there.
Because students come with specific purposes for learning, one of the best ways to keep them motivated is to help them feel progress towards their goal. In order to do this, you will have to determine somehow what those goals are. One way to proceed is to conduct an informal discussion to determine their goals. This may require the assistance of interpreters because of the variety of the students' native languages.
# –> need a good feedback on how well they do (focus on *achievements*). Both at the level of the exercise and some summary table that they can easily access.
Once the goals have been determined, materials and activities that will be relevant to the goals should be selected. For example, a student wants to learn English so that he or she can work towards a GED, the materials that are chosen should provide vocabulary and language patterns that are used in basic secondary textbooks. Students will be further motivated if you remind them how each of the activities that you are doing will help them move towards their goals (e.g., “We're doing this activity so that when you are taking a math class, you will be able to . . .”).
# –> frequent reminders of the benefits they get from the exercises.
One of the most important factors that motivate students is a sense of progress. There should be clear markers of success so that students can look at what they are doing well. This means that there should be fairly frequent measurements (questioning individual students, short quizzes, corrected homework, etc.). Too often teachers avoid measurements because they are time consuming or because the students have an inordinate fear of examinations. However, a wise teacher will build in easy, convenient ways of showing the students their progress. One simple way of doing this is a simple checklist of tasks that the students would want to be able to accomplish in order to reach their overall goal. As they do the tasks one by one, they sense their progress and feel that the class is worthwhile. This will keep them coming until they reach their major goal.
# –> Personalisation. Ask the student to specify a target. Provide very easy to read info about how far he is from the target (best example of this are task organisers on PDAs)
A second factor that will maintain and increase motivation for your students is enjoyment. Activities should provide opportunities for real social interaction and getting to know other people in a relaxed and, sometimes, even humorous ways. If activities are exciting enough, students will not want to miss class because they know they will be missing the “action.” If you help your students develop feelings of respect and friendship for one another, those ties will also draw them back to the class. Relevance is probably the most important motivating factor for adult students. If the students are exposed to and study life-coping skills, e.g. balancing a checkbook, applying for a job, etc., their interest will never waiver.
# –> try to find exercises that are not too abstract. If you can find some that mimick real world activities (filling a job application), the better
# –> among the “self-training activities, produce a “resume” unit, where the student can write and update his resume. Keep it permanent. Include it in some exercices.