Teaching English as a foreign language can be intimidating, but teaching adults is a whole other ballgame. You have to be fun but not condescending. Prepared, and expect the unexpected. Qualified, and most of the time have a few years of experience under your belt. 

One of the best benefits of teaching English to adults is that they are in your classroom because they want to be. Unlike teaching children where it may be mandatory for them, adults are learning English because they are excited to learn English. For a teacher in any niche, this is the goal and will make your teaching experience a lot more enjoyable. 

You’ll find these types of teaching jobs within the private language sector, whether that’s within the corporate business world or teaching one-on-one online. These TEFL jobs are generally higher paid with flexible hours. Unlike the public sector, most private jobs’ prime hours will be outside of office hours. This means that adults will learn English around their work schedule. 

One thing to think about when teaching English to adults for any reason is that because it is in the private sector and they or an employer are paying for the lessons, you do need to work on some sales skills. It’s all about getting them back into the classroom, which a lot of teachers may forget. So, remember to keep it fun and rewarding. With that being said, let’s talk about how to run a classroom for teaching English to adults in each level you’ll come across as a TEFL teacher. 

English tutor Teaching Business English to Adults

Beginners to intermediate English: How to run the classroom

The prospect of teaching English to students at a beginner or intermediate level can be terrifying for TEFL teachers, especially if they are unfamiliar with the pupils’ native tongue. Teachers may be unsure if they can teach this level or where to begin. Don’t be concerned, it is entirely achievable for any teacher!

Total physical response (TPR) is a great method to teach English to adult beginners. TPR is a method that prescribes using your body and facial expressions to relay meaning. TPR is successful because no matter where in the world you are, everyone can understand certain gestures and expressions.

When running a classroom for beginners to intermediates, use plenty of pictures, use simple and minimal language (stick to the vocab you’ve already done with a few new words), and it’s always useful to incorporate props into your lesson. 

Advanced English: How to run the classroom

The big difference between an advanced English lesson and a business English lesson is that the adult learners will be in the advanced English lesson for any reason. You’ll have a mix of students in your classroom and will need to try and make it as relevant as possible for all. The great thing about advanced English is that your students will already have a good understanding of the language. So, you can just ask them “why have you taken this course?”. Make sure to ask this question every so often as this answer may change for some students. 

The one thing you have to remember with advanced English classes is that because they do have a high level of English, the classes may sometimes get boring. This is why conducting a SWOT or needs analysis test more often will help you keep students motivated.

Also Read: Teaching English Online and Starting Your Own Business with TEFL

In these classes, a few ideas include reading circles (an English book club – Jane Austen anyone?), email writing for work, and teaching negotiation skills and humor. These will keep them on their toes as reading between the lines is also a very important part of the English language. 

adult class


Business English: How to run the classroom

In comparison to advanced English classes, Business English lessons normally have a set goal. Whether you are teaching business English online or in the classroom, the student is there for a pre-determined reason. They want to excel in their career. From promotions to career changes, there is a lot you can do to help. 

Before taking on a new student, you must first see if the student is ready for a class like this. Having at least a B2 level of English is preferable. Running a needs analysis test is a must. If you think they’re not ready for business English, you can suggest general English lessons to work on the basics and increase their English lesson before moving on to business English. 

Teaching in schools

Before running a business English class, we recommend completing a business English TEFL certification. This will help you teach business English with confidence. It will cover everything you need to know about this TEFL niche, such as methodologies in the classroom, combining grammar skills with corporate language, and incorporating real life with your lesson subjects. 



Q: What is the best way to teach English to adults?


You may think that teaching English to adults sounds like a one-hour conversation between you and the student(s) without the use of games or creative lesson plans. This is certainly not the case! There are a few methods of teaching when it comes to teaching adults. Whichever method or lesson plan you choose, you should keep in mind that they are adults. Try not to be condescending during your lessons. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that adult learners are paying to be there. It’s always private language lessons. You want them to come back each time and you are essentially a salesperson. Build rapport with your students, make them fun and informative, and you will be sure to be teaching them for longer. 

Q: What should I teach in business English?


Business English is a TEFL specialty that focuses on business terminology, related topics, and corporate culture. It is frequently taught onsite to major company personnel, but you could also teach private English lessons or Business English online. Most students will have a good understanding of English, so be prepared for each lesson as they can be challenging!

We suggest that you completed the Business English TEFL Specialist Course as this will help you with lesson plans and methodologies in this niche. 

Q: What makes a good business English instructor?


Qualifications: Business English teaching is a step up from your normal general English lessons. Experience and being fluent in English won’t be enough to run a business English classroom. The most successful teachers will have a level 5 TEFL qualification and a business English specialist certificate. We also suggest starting with general English if you have no experience and building yourself up to these classes unless you enter a training program specified by private language schools. 

Preparation: This is key when it comes to business English lessons. More times than not, your class will be industry-specific. You’ll have students who know their field like the back of their hands. Knowing a little about their industry will help you. There is nothing worse than not knowing what your student is talking about. Studying a little bit on SaaS or product production will help you feel more confident as a teacher. 

Q: What should I teach an adult beginner in English?


When you walk into a classroom full of adults, it’s easy to forget that you may not be running a B2/C1 level lesson. You may not want to be condescending in the classroom and treat them as children, but remember that getting lost in the classroom and falling behind as a student is a lot worse. 

Start with conversational English, use the PPP method, and keep it relative. Make sure you are clear and keep the language simple. 

Q: How can I teach English vocabulary to adults?


The majority of people do not learn English because they enjoy languages. Most folks are studying English for a specific reason, whether it is to pass an exam, conduct business, advance in their careers, or go on vacation. As a result, you must choose vocabulary that is beneficial or required for them while deciding what vocabulary to teach them. There are some topics that are beneficial or required for everyone to learn (e.g. food, travel, negotiation). However, you must ask your students what other vocabulary subjects they wish to learn.

When your students have learned the new vocabulary, you need to get them to use them. We know that this may seem obvious. But getting the students to use them in their own words will help them remember. Make sure that they try to use them in a conversation or role play with other students, or write their own sentences with them.

Q: How can play-based English learning help adults?


There are numerous advantages to including games in your lesson plans, including the ability to excite and motivate students. As well as teach problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills, languages, and critical thinking. And, most importantly, they’re entertaining.

Use universal games and activities such as Articulate, Heads Up, Charades, and Pass the Bomb. These are fun games that adults enjoy. This will create fun in the classroom and increase the confidence of adult learners to speak English out loud. 

Step inside

Your first steps to becoming a fully accredited, internationally recognised EFL/ESL teacher within 4 weeks!

    Your Insights to a successful TEFL Career

    Let us guide you on the best ways to do your job research, application & interview. This is your bible to success.

      Tefl brochure

      Step inside

      Your first steps to becoming a fully accredited, internationally recognised EFL/ESL teacher within 4 weeks!

        What’s inside?

        Your first steps to becoming a fully accredited, internationally recognised EFL/ESL teacher within 4 weeks!

          Download Brochure

          It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

            By submitting this form, you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms & conditions and privacy policy.