Adults learning English bring to the task a mature personality, many years of educational training, a developed intelligence, a determination to get what they want, fairly clear aims, and above all strong motivation to make as rapid progress as possible. These are formidable qualifications which far outweigh any disadvantages, and make teaching adults a challenging and satisfying experience.
An adult is no longer constrained by the educational system or parental pressure to learn English, so the problems of dealing with conscripts do not exist. Since people choose to be present in an English class, the opposite is more the case—the tertiary teacher’s task is to utilise and channel his student’s motivation so that his specific needs and aims are optimally fulfilled. There is considerable diversity in the tertiary sector and the rest of this chapter looks at some of the important areas and their problems.
Many English teachers find themselves in or attached to university or polytechnic English departments throughout the world in the capacity of assistants or lecturers. Generally speaking, the framework of the studies is fixed and the syllabus, usually preparing for a final examination, settled. The teacher’s challenge is to bring to life the language, literature and civilisation it is his charge to teach.