Learning modes young learners
vs adult learnersWhen teaching English to non-English speakers, there are two main categories of learner?s in regards to their ages. There are adults who are generally 18 years or over and there are young learners
who can be further placed into 3 categories. These categories range from the very young learners
of pre-school age who are aged 7 years or less to early teen learners who are 13 years and over.
Adult learners have often had some sort of exposure to the English language throughout their life and their experience with it can vary from very little to a long history. While they may have been exposed to the language and for some, had some experience with it, it does not necessarily mean they know the language. However what they lack in English language knowledge they make up for with motivation, as they have consciously made the decision to learn the language for a specific purpose or personal benefit.
Whilst adult learners seem to appear as the preferred category of learner to teach, due to their high levels of motivation and willingness to learn, as well as their life experience, they are not without their own difficulties.
As adults have been through years of schooling and may have participated in other courses throughout their life, they have been exposed to many different teachers and have a certain expectation on how a class should be taught, which may causes problems or difficulties for the teacher. This experience with previous learning may also affect their self-confidence and progression with the language which ultimately affects their success with their learning, due to past failures. This may create anxieties about participating in class activities and getting things wrong or making mistakes in front of people.
on the other hand, have had very little life experience and little to no exposure to the English language, though this is neither a good or bad thing as they are likely to have a more open mind to new learning experiences and methods. They have the ability to absorb the language they are learning from context and use it in the same way they learnt their own language.
are also not without their own difficulties. The early teenage learner of 13 years and older are quite possibly the most difficult category of learner to teach. This is because they are often unmotivated to learn as they have not made the decision to learn the language themselves. They may be self-conscious about how they will appear to their peers if they get answers wrong and they are more aware about how fast/slow they are progressing in comparison to the rest of the class. This will ultimately create an unwillingness to take risks or experiment with the language due to their lack of confidence.
The primary school age learner aged 8 -12 years old, usually find it easier to pick up the language as they are more receptive to learning new sounds, words and grammar of a foreign language. While the pre-school age learners aged 7 years and less, may not have yet even fully comprehended their own language yet, but are still willing to participate in fun activities such as singing, drawing and games as they have shorter attention spans and are less likely to remain concentrated or even understand tedious lessons on grammar for an unfamiliar language.
Both categories of learners; adults and young learners
come with their own advantages and disadvantages, however with the right lesson plans
and positive, fun learning environment all students
young or old will eventually realize the benefits of learning English as a language and will enjoy learning it along the way.