dom>Tefl articles>Ways of learning: young learners versus adults
Ways of learning: young learners versus adults
The role of a teacher is vast and varied and there are a significant number of factors that will influence that role. One of the main factors that really influences how and what we decide to teach is the age of the students. For example, you couldn't walk into a class full of eight-year-old elementary school kids with the same curriculum designed to teach a group of third-year students. Apart from the differences that would occur in academic skills, people of different ages between these two groups have very different needs, competencies and cognitive abilities. For example, much of children's early learning is achieved through play. (1) 'Children's physical, social-emotional and intellectual development depends on activity'. Where as adults they think more abstractly.
When thinking about how to teach different age groups, we should first look at the differences in how those age groups learn. Young children, for example, learn not only from explanations, but also from other stimuli they receive in connection with the explanation, such as what they hear, what they see, and even what they touch and interact with. (2) 'Their own understanding comes through hands, eyes and ears. The physical world is always dominant'. The characteristics you will see in children are enthusiasm for learning, they will usually be willing to ask lots of questions, they will enjoy talking about themselves and they will respond well to learning with themselves and their lives as the main topics. It is important to remember when teaching children that most children have a very short attention span and concentration and can get bored easily. They also need to receive attention and approval from the teacher during class.
This requires teachers of young learners to be flexible and allow their learners to access information from a variety of sources. You should prepare a series of short exercises that will keep the kids interested, such as games, songs, drawing, and activities that involve movement. (2) 'Children have an amazing ability to absorb language through play and other activities they enjoy.' More complex ideas such as the structure and function of grammar should be kept to a minimum, very few children will be able to deal with the workings of grammar, they will generally passively learn the rules 'how good they are at foreign languages does not depend on it whether they have learned the grammar rules or not'.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have adults. According to Steven Pinker (3), adult language learning 'often depends on the conscious exercise of their considerable intellect, unlike children for whom language acquisition occurs naturally'. But being an adult means they can rely more on abstract thinking. Adults are also more disciplined and can fight through boredom. They have life experiences from which to draw, allowing teachers to use a wide variety of activities. They often have clear goals and objectives about what they want from English and this keeps them motivated. While adults may be less flexible when trying new teaching methods, may be anxious or lack self-confidence due to previous language learning experiences, they may also feel that their intellectual strength is diminishing. Alan Rogers believes that the intellectual power of adult learners (4) is 'directly related to how much had been learned in the adult's life before they entered a new learning experience'.
When teaching adults (5) "you can incorporate more indirect learning methods through reading, listening, communicative speaking and writing". You can break down the complex grammatical and phonetic structure of the English language to an adult, and the adult is more likely to understand the rules and use their intellect to consciously learn how to use the English language. Since an adult's attention span is longer, we can also prepare activities that take much longer than a child's. The negative effects of past learning experiences can be mitigated by offering activities that are attainable and listening to students' concerns by adapting what we do to tastes in learning.
So from this we can see how important it is to know the needs of your audience before preparing a lesson. While some things remain unchanged, for example, it is important to build a good relationship with your students, be patient and remain professional at all times to inspire them to learn.
Young students against adults
Although the learning style of young learners shows similarities to that of adult learners, there are also many distinct differences.
Young learners are usually in a learning environment because their parents or other adults direct them to learn. They learn if they are told it will benefit them in the future. Young adults usually learn what the teacher puts in front of them, like to be challenged and are open to new ideas. They see the adult teacher as a role model and depend on him for the material they will learn.
It is important to keep the lessons interesting so that students are stimulated and excited about what they are learning. If they like what they are taught, they will quickly adopt it. Young learners usually have a fairly short attention span, are curious and full of energy; that's why it's important to keep the class active - changing activities regularly and using interactive fun activities.
Keeping young students motivated can also be a challenge. Children are often very demanding, they need the teacher's attention. They like praise and recognition for their ideas and good grades. For the teacher, it is important to get to know the students and bring out the ideas, strengths and interests of each student. If a teacher can build on the skills students have already developed, they will feel important and boost their confidence.
If young adults do act, disciplinary action may be required. It is important to clearly state that the act is inappropriate; but often students behave because their needs are not being met. If the teacher looks for ways to involve the student and recognize what he/she is doing right, the unacceptable behavior will usually be replaced by a more positive attitude.
Adult learners, on the other hand, are more self-centered and will take learning seriously as they invest in their own education. Adults usually have a purpose for learning and need to see personal value or reward in taking lessons. In adults, presence issues are usually not a problem because they are usually there because they want to be there. Learning is their choice.
Adults like to be in control of their lives and feel responsible for themselves; therefore it is important to listen to their needs and ideas and integrate them into your lesson plans. Although adults learn more slowly than young students, they bring many years of life experience to the classroom. These experiences and the knowledge they bring can be used to make lessons very interesting and interactive. Adults love to share their experiences and can gain confidence through listening and acknowledgment.
Unlike young learners, adults can learn through lectures, but they also need a lot of interaction and group activities to keep their attention.
Keeping adults motivated is key in the learning process. You can do this by giving them credit for their ideas and praising them for their achievements. Some adults have been out of school for many years and lack self-confidence. It is important to keep them interested and motivated to help them build their confidence and self-esteem.
Other challenges a teacher may have with a class of adults include aging factors, such as hearing loss, vision problems, mobility, and memory. Depending on the demographics, the teacher will have to make concessions.
We see that there are many differences in teaching young learners and adults, but there are also similarities. Both groups need clear instruction from their teachers and will learn more if they are challenged and praised for what they do well. All people need a climate of respect, trust, support and fun in order to learn successfully. The teacher is there to guide learning through well-planned and appropriate lessons and to create a comfortable learning environment for the student's growth.
Young students against adults
In examining many aspects of education, at first it seems that the methods or ways of teaching two such different age groups are as clear as the difference between a 12-year-old schoolgirl and a 56-year-old street sweeper. There are certainly many obvious differences in how both age groups should be taught, but this article, while highlighting these perceived differences, will focus on the similarities. Education is education, both teaching and learning, no matter who or what the individual is sitting at the table.
The most obvious similarity between the methods to be used for both students is that whatever the lesson, it should be well structured and well planned. Since our young learners are under 15 and adults over 21, both youth and adults need a clearly defined pattern of structure for their learning.
While it may be an obvious statement that children need structure and planning, adults are no different, especially if they are paying customers. They expect nothing less than a professional person with the level of professionalism they will have in their career (1).
While structure and planning are high on the list of factors that contribute to a successful learning environment for students of all ages, there is another important aspect of teaching that is similar across both our grades: fun. It could be argued that a lesson can only be enjoyed if there is structure and planning and a lot rests on the shoulders of the teacher to create an environment where both adults and children feel comfortable and confident to express themselves fully. to push.
“If you're positive and come in smiling, you'll get a similar response 99% of the time. The more excited you are, the more they get involved." (2)
However, both young learners and adults need activities that are fun. In the context of teaching, fun activities are activities where learning seems almost incidental and both subject categories can be seen interacting with high levels of student speaking time. Games are a perfect example of this and are an important learning tool for both children and adults as they not only teach new material but also provide the opportunity to speak English in a relaxed and friendly manner. Children, especially those with short attention spans, enjoy a colorful classroom and short and varied fun activities such as songs, stories and role-playing games. However, they are not the only ones who enjoy this type of activity. Adults, especially those in Thailand, seem to enjoy role-playing and games as much as their young counterparts, and most of them seem to have no qualms about the potential embarrassment.
“Learning will be more effective in activities or games when students find them interesting" (3).
While these mentioned factors are just two reasons why adult and children's teaching is similar, what about the differences? Certainly the issue of motivation and why the student attends classes is most likely the main difference. It can be assumed that school-aged children were 'forced' to go to school by their enthusiastic parents, while those who left school long ago now know how a higher level of English helps their earning prospects in their careers. This factor certainly affects one's teaching, because if you are faced with disciplinary problems, the amount of time spent teaching, and therefore learning, will be significantly reduced.
However, to wrap up this point, and especially the issue of adults and children in the classroom, it comes down to the teacher's ability, professionalism and character to create a positive learning environment. If this can be created through well-structured, well-planned and fun, enjoyable activities, then it's not about the differences between our two fields, but about creating an environment where we, students and teachers, all work towards the common purpose enjoy English being taught as a foreign language.