Sunday, February 6, 2011

Teaching Adults - Part 2

Adult learners have a number of characteristics which can make learning and teaching problematic. They can be critical of teaching methods, anxious and under-confident because of previous failure and worry about diminishing learning power associated with age. They more often than young learners face certain linguistic problems like ‘fossilized’ errors – persistent deviations from the second language norm, language transfer - negative influence of the mother tongue on the productive skills.

Research in error analysis shows that over half the errors are interference errors. Adult learners are believed to be focused on form or correctness. They are particularly conscious of deviations from the established networks, and seek to understand the nature of the rule system.  (Rivers, 1992). In fact, this can begin at high school level with second language learners who try to understand the rules of English rather than just 'doing it' as young children would.

In one respect, however, adult learners are similar to young learners. All may be grouped according to their preferred learning styles. Differences in cognitive styles influence learners’ priorities for particular approach to learning. Learners employ different learning strategies, i.e. "specific actions taken by the learner to make learning easier, faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, and more transferable to new situations” (Oxford, 1990).

More on learning styles in my next post…

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