Learning Modes young learners
vs. AdultsWhether children learn differently from adults has been a long debated question, and there is no clear answer. This is because there is no clear definition of ?learning?. Children and adults respond differently and different teaching methods work better for each group, so in that sense, there are differences. However, there are also teaching strategies that work well for both groups.
The differences between adult and children learning are that adults come with previous life experiences, generally learn for a reason and are thus more motivated, and they know what they want. Having previous life experiences can be a benefit or a drawback, depending on whether it is positive or negative. If it is a positive experience, the teacher can relate this to the task at hand and it can act as encouragement. If it is a negative experience, it may deter the student
from trying. In either scenario, there is a pre-conceived notion, so it may be harder for an adult learner to keep an ?open? mind. Children, on the other hand, may be more willing to jump in on the new subject because they have no idea about it. A good analogy is when an adult and a child go skiing. The adult is more afraid of the child because he/she has probably experienced falling and the associated pain associated. The child on the other hand probably has not had any experience and does not anticipate pain.
The reasons for learning English vary from children to adult. Adults usually learn because they are trying to gain something, whether it is an improvement in lifestyle
or personal satisfaction. Therefore, they have an idea of what they want to get out of the class and appreciate practical tasks. Children, on the other hand, are generally content with whatever the teacher presents. They can?t anticipate how English will relate to what they need in the future, but usually learn because they think they have to. This is why adults tend to ask more questions regarding why something is the way they are and they spend more time trying to find logical patterns, although these patterns may not always exist. Adults sometimes end up overcomplicating things, which makes the learning process more difficult. Children do not analyze as much, but rather ?soak up? the knowledge, assuming it is true. In scientific studies, it has been shown that when processing foreign languages, children use the ?deep motor area?, which is responsible for processes that come as second nature. Adults use a more active part of the brain, which means they try to rationalize.
A good way to summarize the difference between children learning and adult learning is that children?s definition of learning is the transfer of knowledge from a reliable source whereas the adult?s definition is the sharing of information and experiences. The teacher plays different roles when teaching the two groups. To the children, the teacher is an authoritative figure. To the adults, the teacher is a mentor and expert in this certain area, but understands the teacher does not know everything. In this case, the teacher may not be in charge, but simply there to help students
reach their goals.
Other than the aforementioned differences, children may also have an easier time learning because adults may be facing problems that are associated with aging. Older adults may not see or hear as well, which are important senses in learning. Also, it is true that children will be able to pronounce words of a foreign language easier. Perhaps it goes along with the concept that they do not have a pre-conceived notion of trying to relate the new language to his/her native tongue and will try and make the sounds without thinking too into it.
Even though there are differences, there are similar strategies that work well. In both cases of teaching adults and children, having interesting classes and activities that allow students
to experience are effective. Also, in both cases, it is important for the teacher to set a comfortable and encouraging environment. The teacher?s characteristics, as taught in the TEFL lessons, should be the same for both classes. The method, topics, materials used, and assignment should vary.