First of all, the 50-plus age is my favorite one — it’s my age!
I had a group of such students. Voice of America journalists filmed a story about it. Here is the video of our lesson (3:12).
The Soroka course suits them perfectly! The font is large; colorful illustrations are everywhere; each page has factoids that can be seen easily; and all words and phrases can be heard on audio recordings.
When working with students over 50, you should and must follow the instructions of the Teacher’s Book — play the guessing games, anagrams, and write dictations of Surikov. The “Three Bogatyrs” training aid may also come in handy for you. There is no difference who you teach in this regard — 10-year-old children or adults over 50. The concept of this training aid is learned through multiple repetitions, shifting of objects (in our case, flashcards) and pronunciation of words. It is useful for all students.
People over 50 enjoy studying with children’s books, as they evoke positive emotions.
The curriculum of the Soroka course is slow — we introduce the material softly and gradually in order to avoid information overload. There are lots of repetitions in the course that are also essential for the 50-plus audience.
Still, there are some remarks. The 50-plus audience differs from children. When you work with adults over 50, you need to revise the learned material more often and move backward all the time, as they absorb it slower and forget more quickly than children.
Try to make notes of the material. In addition to the Activity Book, ask the students to purchase a regular notebook where they can write down words or transcriptions. Rewriting is generally useful for learning.
Having a separate notebook doesn’t exclude exercises for listening and writing — be sure to do them. You’ll probably have to help your students to download an audio file, but you can go without it. Sometimes it is enough to play a file during the lesson and have the students repeat after you.
Students who are 50-plus love to put knowledge into practice. The Soroka course is perfect for that, as it is focused on speaking. We speak and act out simple conversations from the very first lesson. Ordinarily, adults over 50 years old are motivated already; they know that they want to learn Russian, and that’s why they came to you — so appreciate it.
During the lesson, you should become a part of the group, an equal partner. Set up the chairs and desk “in the round,” so that the teacher sits in a circle together with the students. Let every member of the group speak up. Repeat the questions softly, let them take their time to answer, and be ready to prompt the correct answer.
It is better to learn from a printed book instead of an e-book. Students over 50 usually hold conservative views; so even if you conduct online lessons, it is better for them to have a printed book.
When learning, it is better to use visual memory instead of abstract concepts. In this respect, the Soroka course is again ideal for them.
Be glad when students ask you all sorts of questions, and encourage them to do so. Even if you have already discussed a topic and the answer is transparent, repeat the answer one more time.
Ask questions that the students can answer from the perspective of their life experience — for instance, inquire about languages that they had been studying in their childhood, and let them talk about their experience. If they had a negative experience, show them that you take this into account, and manage lessons in a manner to avoid the same mistakes.
If you conduct group lessons in a regular class, then you should come in advance in order to greet everyone and exchange a word or two.
Take a break more often, so that the students can have some time to rest.
Don’t forget that the teacher is a kind of adviser, a guide to the world of Russian as a foreign language. The Soroka course will be very helpful in working with this age group.