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Motivating Adult Learners – 15 ways to use a Wiki

Group of smiling young adults around a laptop in a library

Shelly Sanchez Terrell returns with the next in the series of tools for motivating adult learners, focussing on the use of Wikis to continue learning outside the classroom.

My adult English language learners live in a country where they are surrounded by their native tongue. They sincerely want to learn English and show motivation in our lessons, but when they leave the classroom the reality is they will continue to speak their native tongue. Language teachers know that the quickest and most effective way to learn a language is to use the language. I have found a way to motivate my adult students to continue to use English while they are not in my class. I have set-up a wiki with resources and tasks to reinforce their learning.

A wiki is effectively a class website, but easier to design. Wikis are free for educators and are advertisement-free if you sign-up at Wikispaces for Educators or PBWorks for Educators. Both of these sites provide you with a variety of tools to embed (insert on your wiki page) to help students collaborate and build a language learning community full of resources.


You do not have to be a web expert to set-up a wiki. Wiki platforms provide you with several options to embed various web 2.0 tools, links, and more. You will need to set-up an account, name your wiki, pick a template, upload a header, and create pages. Show your students how to use the wiki after you set it up. I like to set up my wiki based on the themes we learn in class. In my adult wiki, students find resources for idioms, cultural differences, vocabulary, phrasal verbs, and more. The homepage contains links to their most recent assignments.

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Motivating Adult Learners – Skype an Expert

Written by Shelly Terrell.

Young adult girl using a webcam and headset for video conferencingMy adult learners are not technology savvy, but they enjoy when I use technology in our classes. Their favourite tool is Skype, a free videoconferencing tool that can be downloaded on the Skype website.  Skype allows me to connect my students with the world. We can speak with guest experts from virtually anywhere on a webcam. My adult students enjoy this tool so much they often ask who we will Skype next.


Skype is such a versatile tool. You have the option to share your desktop, exchange files, text chat, and videoconference with up to five people (PC users only). You will need a web camera and microphone to use this free software. I have an LCD projector that displays our guests for the entire class to see. The students sit in a circle facing the screen.

We only use Skype for 20 percent of the class time. The beginning of the class is spent exploring our topic and deciding which questions the students want to ask the guest speaker. After the Skype call, I ask the students for feedback.

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