Because these educators work with non-traditional students in atypical educational settings, adult ESL education TESOL teachers face unique challenges.
As non-traditional students, adults have particular issues that their TESOL teachers must acknowledge and overcome. Unlike traditional classes made up of children, the pupils in an adult education course are likely to be more diverse. One student to the next may differ in his or her English language proficiency, native tongue, educational background, literacy, culture and age. This heterogeneity diminishes the instructor’s ability to treat the class as a unified whole and often makes more individual attention necessary. Adult students also differ from children as they come to class with specific goals. Rather than the more abstract aim of achieving academic success, adult education students wish to learn English to advance their careers or function better in society; thus, course material may be more vocational, practical, or social in nature. Attendance is also a particular problem when considering adult learners. Because many are employed full time or part time, and classes are their second priority, absences may be frequent, with students continuously enrolling in and dropping courses.
Adult education programs may be administered by governmental organizations or private companies, with diverse curriculum structure, class sizes, standards and aims. Courses may follow two different models: the typical classroom, in which students enroll and attend classes on a regular schedule, usually for an hour everyday or two hours three times a week for eight weeks; or the less rigid center model, in which students come to a location to work as long as they wish, often individually or in small groups with a teacher.