1. What would you want to find out about a group of learners that you had to teach so that you could plan your lessons?
You’d want to know how much English they already knew, in all 4 main areas including reading, writing, speaking and listening. These can vary wildly and would help you plan the lesson. I’d also want to know how old they were and why they were taking this course. A couple in their 60’s going for a holiday in the UK will have very different needs to a medical student and both are different to a group of business people and all of these are different to an immigrant seeking employment in the hospitality industry.
2. How would you find out?
You could do a placement test. Also, a good way is to ask the students what they would like to focus on. A good way is to plan a lesson that incorporates a little of everything and then just take notes throughout the lesson, and then maybe ask the students what they found too easy or too hard and what they would like from future lessons. I think this is such a positive thing about teaching adults, because they are able to give feedback like this (unlike children).