Establishing Rapport (adult learners). “To build rapport with adults in

“To build rapport with adults in the learning environment, use positive nonverbal communication, deal with the whole person, address learners as equals, share authority, and employ informal room arrangements such as placing all the chairs in a circle, in a U, or around a table. Adult students also appreciate instructors who share appropriate information about themselves and who are approachable and accessible.” Guidelines for Working with Adult Learners. ERIC Digest No. 77.

A good rapport is the first important step for any teacher when they first step into a unfamiliar classroom this is reminded in the Faculty and TA department guides for Ohio state university that “It is important to remember that initial impressions tend to be lasting and that the way you choose to spend the first day of class will set the tone for the entire quarter”. As the teacher you have to manage to instill a confidence in your students that you want to be there, you care about their learning and that you are going to be approachable as a tutor and friend and this is usually all taken in during the first lesson as the student will judge you as a person, teacher and individual during this time!

There are many approaches you can take and there are many ways to establish a rapport with staff and no matter how many books or teachers you will observe you will realize that the best way is to put your own “personal stamp” within the learning environment that you want to work in and hopefully learners will enjoy being part of. Although as most teachers will want to present a welcoming and comfortable learning environment for any adult learner (many will have chosen to learn a new language or skill by choice) you have to remember it is easy to offend unconsciously. This quote from the Adults as Learners resource highlight that it is to be a priority when establishing a rapport. It has to be remembered that unlike children as an adult you carry many thoughts and apprehensions about being learner. It is part of human nature to loose confidence about certain aspects especially if they have not been a “student” for a long time. Children take a fearless approach at times to new interests and this should be encouraged in adult learners. They should leave the first lesson wanting to come back to this classroom and tutor who makes them feel confident to approach their learning. They should feel that they can approach the teacher when seeking guidance as there is nothing worse than being unsure if they will be judged or penalized if they ask for help in a lesson. (which can be viewed by some cultures who take learning seriously) this is reminded by the Faculty and TA department of Ohio State University who remind their staff that; “It is very difficult to establish a positive teacher-student relationship with students who feel that they are not welcome in your class.”

It has to be remembered that you may be dealing with students who may not share your view or walk of life and this you have to consider when teaching. This could be as simple as making a joke which could be considered offensive in a matter of situations i.e. racial or homophobic. When the students first enter your class you have to consider the fact that at that point they are still not known by you individually just as they do not know you. It is reminded to teachers in the adults as learners article in the Literacy New York that “The instructor must establish rapport with participants and prepare them for learning; this provides motivation.”

In conclusion a teacher who is working with adults (and youths) has to ensure you manage to instill confidence in their learners therefore instilling confidence and being approachable is the first step in building a positive rapport with any students which should then allow them to embark on a positive learning experience for each student while they are in any class.


Faculty & TA Development The Ohio State University Article – First Day of Class

Literacy New York Literacy New York Trainer Corp Resources: Adults As Learners Guidelines for Working with Adult Learners. ERIC Digest No. 77.