Teaching English to Adult Students


Editor’s Note: In an effort to provide more information about what it’s like teaching English in Medellín, we invited Nancy Kiernan to share her experience. If you’re a teacher who would like to contribute, please contact us.

Webster´s Dictionary defines motivation as: “a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”

I teach English to adult students who have a driving motivation to learn the language. The reasons are as varied as the students.

Some must know English for their jobs, some want the opportunity to progress in their careers, others want to travel to English-speaking countries, and the rest want to be able to speak English in social settings. Whatever the reason, it is the driving force behind their motivation to learn.

My students include executives from Bancolombia, Solla, Sofasa and Alianza Valores. They are balancing their time between careers, family life and studying. Because of this, I take a practical approach to the way I teach.

Homework is limited to only one exercise per class, and it is always relevant and productive.

For example, if we are studying persuasive language, the homework assignment might be to write an advertisement for a product or service. Keeping it relevant improves the likelihood that the homework will actually get done.

While motivation is high, the demands of their jobs and personal life often conflict with classes. There are many cancellations or classes rescheduled due to business travel requirements or family commitments.

This can (and does) wreak havoc with my own schedule. My day can change in a matter of hours from being scheduled for four classes in a day, to having only one.

The vast majority of my students really just want to be able to have conversations and write emails. Most don’t like learning grammar, but then again, who does?

I try to be creative with my lessons so that they don’t really realize they are studying grammar. It is embedded in the theme of the lesson.

I never start the class with “today we are going to study the present progressive tense.” Their eyes would glaze over and I´m sure a sudden emergency would develop.

All of my students want to be corrected when they make a mistake, especially in conversation. They take pride in speaking English “like a native.”

Most of them also want to learn the slang and idioms of the language. One of my most well received lessons was about the use of colors in expressions (e.g. blue blood, green thumb, not all black and white).

I enjoy teaching English to those who want to learn. It gives me great satisfaction to watch them progress. The very best part of my job is the smiles on their faces when THEY realize they have learned something new.


About the Author: Nancy Kiernan is a Massachusetts native who moved with her husband to Medellin in May 2012. She currently teaches English and is attempting to learn salsa and tango. Find her on Facebook.

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  1. Thanks for the article!

    I am in Bogota now and will be in Medellin next week. I’m a CELTA certified teacher from Los Angeles and am wondering how hard is it to make enough money in Medellin teaching English? I’d like to teach only adult students and plan to supplement any job I might find with private lessons. Also, can one support themselves solely with private lessons? I’ve been offered a job in Bogota which looks like good one but I don’t really love the city so much. Any help is very much appreciated.



    • Hello Jason
      I am looking for someone to teach my girlfriend’s 16 yr old son private
      English lessons . We live in Laureles and need lessons in morning a few
      times a week. He goes to school in the afternoons.

  2. Indeed the website – Teaching English to Adult Students in Medellin has greatly motivated me to teach in Colombia. I checked on the Administrators and array of teachers and found Medellin Living.

    I am a Filipina of Spanish ancestry. I speak English fluently and at a native level.

    Prompted by my desire to be a part of your academic team in Medellin, I am respectfully submitting my comprehensive resume to you which highlight on my professional career as a professor and researcher for your evaluation. Since English is the language of power, I believe I can train students to improve their communication skills to prepare them for college or employment. Will there be a chance for non-Western like me with comprehensive teaching background to fly to Medellin? I would appreciate your advice about it.
    I am downhearted that professors in my country are underpaid and lack the opportunities to explore their treating capabilities. I am a single parent and I wish to have a chance to prove my worth in another country and help myself survive financially.

    An experienced traveling professor and workshop trainer in TESOL and TOEFL, curriculum and teaching strategy planner and researcher, a language and literature professor – these are my qualifications which make me confident to teach in your center.

    I went to Korea in 2011 for a winter camp along with other American teachers and also gave lecture series in Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia in 2013. I also brought my Graduate School students for an academic exposure trip in Singapore in 2012. I was a former school director of Foreign Languages and Linkages at West Negros University and an active member of AUDRN (Asian University Digital Resource Network). I represented our university two years ago to join the Indonesia – Philippines Local Knowledge Study Tour. I can also handle administrative task and other related job commensurate to my qualifications having been exposed to varied and myriad duties and responsibilities as a professor and school administrator.
    I specialize in language and literature and have been teaching for twenty four years now. I completed my Masters in Literature at De la Salle University with Distinction. I am a Ph.D Candidate in Applied Linguistics at University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. I do qualitative research and have done comprehensive researches in gender studies, socio-linguistics, pragmatics, local knowledge and culture-based studies.
    I taught Latin American literary studies specializing the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If given the chance to prove my worth and will be employed, I will consider this challenging job for this school year. I am very much willing to migrate to achieve this new and challenging opportunity in my teaching career.
    At present, I am an international education adviser and career consultant of CANADIAN IMMIGRATION CONSULTANCY. I present the school programs through informative orientation in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I visit schools and companies here in the Philippines and present our study pathway. I also do freelance lectures to different schools and language academies, part-time teaching and panel/thesis advising in the School of Graduate Studies of West Negros University and Bacolod City College. I also teach American accent and Conversational English to Koreans and Japanese through online.
    You may reach me through my email or to my active mobile number at +63.933.333 0029 for an interview. I am looking forward to your favorable response.
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