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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.

Lesson Ideas

You can set up your wiki resources after each class. This does take time, but when your wiki is filled with resources you will find that you can re-use these materials and resources again and again. You just have to provide your students with the link. You will also find that you will gain student numbers. I have tripled my course load, which makes my institution happy!

Below are 15 resources to consider adding to your wiki. Just click on each to see how this looks in action:

Visit my technology wiki for more lesson ideas and video tutorials.

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  1. Dear Shelly

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible and very practical list of resources on how to use wikis. This checklist of what to add will come in very handy.

  2. This is a really useful blog on how to set up wikis. There are some great applications here and I think our Global English learning communities will benefit from this, as we seek to develop new approaches to distance learning in TESOL training for both new and exisiting EFL teachers. I can see the applications really working well so thanks for the list of useful tips!

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