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DESCRIBING LEARNERS

FIL ANG 311, 27 October, 2008

Age


The age of our students is a major factor in our decision about how and what to teach. Different needs, competences, cognitive skills. Acquisition is guaranteed for children up to the age of six, is steadily compromised from then until shortly after puberty, and is rare thereafter (Stephen Pinker, 1994)

Age- some beliefs




Adolescents are unmotivated and uncooperative and therefore make poor language learners; Adults have so many barriers to learning because of the slowing effects of ageing and because of their past experiences so that they only rarely have any success.

Age Difference

Young Children

Adolescents

Adults

Young children- up to the age of ten




They respond to meaning even if they do not understand individual words They often learn indirectly Their understanding comes not just from explanation, but also from what they see and hear and, crucially, have a chance to touch and interact with;

Young children- up to the age of ten




 

They generally display an enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity about the world around them; They have a need for individual attention and approval from the teacher; They are keen to talk about themselves, and respond well to learning that uses themselves and their own lives as main topics in the classroom; They have a limitted attention span; unless the activities are extremely engaging they can easily get bored, losing interest after ten minutes or so.

Young learners- implications for ELT




  

A rich diet of learning experiences which encourages students to get information from a variety of sources; Range of different activities; Flexibilty; Classroom- bright and colorful.

Adolescents


Why are they so much less motivated and why do they present outright discipline problems? The search for individual identity- this search provides the key challenge for this age group; Identity has to be forged among classmates and friends, peer approval may be considerably more important for the student than the attention of the teacher.

Adolescents


..the teachers failure to build bridges between what they want and have to teach and their students worlds of thought and experience (Puchta and Schratz) Linking language teaching far more closely to the students everyday interests through, in particular, the use of humanistic teaching.

Adult learners
 

They can engage with abstract thought. Those who succeed at language learning in later life often depend on the conscious exercise of their considerable intellects, unlike children to whom language acquistion naturally happens (Pinker)

Adult learners


They have a whole range of life experiences to draw on; They have expectations about the learning process and may already have their set patterns of learning; They tend to be more disciplined, and they are often prepared to struggle on despite boredom;

Adult learners


They often have a clear understanding of why they are learning and what they want to get out of it; They can be critical of teaching methods; their previous learning experiences may have predisposed them to one particular methodology style and conversely, they may be hostile to certain teaching and learning activities which replicate the teaching they received earlier in their educational careers;

Adult learners


They may have experienced failure or criticism at school which makes them anxious and under-confident about learning a language; Many adults worry that their intellectual powers may be diminishing with agethey are concerned to keep their creative powers alive, to maintain a sense of generativity!

Learner Differences
1. Aptitude (skills) test: to measure general
intellectual ability

2. Good Learner Characteristics:


     

Tolerance of ambiguity Ego involvement High aspirations Goal orientation Creativity Perseverance (persistence), etc

Learner Style


convergers conformists concrete learners communicative learners

Convergers


These are students who are by nature solitary, prefer to avoid groups, independent and confident in their own abilities; They are analytic and can impose their own structures on learning. They tend to be cool and pragmatic.

Conformists


These are the students who prefer to emphasise learning about language over learning to use it. They tend to be dependent on those in authority and are perfectly happy to work in non-communicative classrooms, doing what they are told.

Concrete learners


They enjoy the social aspects of learning and like to learn from direct learning experience. They are interested in language use and language as communication rather than language as a system. They enjoy games and groupwork in class.

Communicative learners
 

They are language use oriented; They are comfortable out of class and show a degree of confidence and willingness to take risks. They are much more interested in social interaction with other speakers of the language than they are with analysis of how the language works; They are perfectly happy to operate without the guidance of a teacher.

Language Levels
advanced upper intermediate mid-intermediate lower intermediate/ pre-intermediate elementary real beginner/ false beginner

Individual Variations

 Multiple intelligence  Neuro-linguistic programming

Children are all unique learners


Gardner s framework for multiple intelligences
Howard Gardner (Frames of Mind: Theory of Multiple Intelligences) suggested that intelligence has no unitary character and is manifested in different ways in different children.

MI Inventory- individual assignment


Part IV/ Key:
Section Section Section Section Section Section Section Section Section 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 This This This This This This This This This reflects your Naturalist strength suggests your Musical strength indicates your Logical strength illustrates your Existential strength shows your Interpersonal strength tells your Kinesthetic strength indicates your Verbal strength reflects your Intrapersonal strength suggests your Visual strength

MI Inventory Results

 

Remember: Everyone has all the intelligences! You can strengthen each intelligence! This inventory is meant as a snapshot in time - it can change! MI is meant to empower, not label learners!

What are the implications of multiple intelligences for language teaching?

Create a list of the implications in your group and identify a reporter to share with the class.

Motivation
1. Defining Motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic 2. Sources of Motivation 3. Initiating and sustaining motivation

Sources of Motivation


The society we live in Significant others The teacher The method

Initiating and Sustaining Motivation




Goals and goal setting Learning environment Interesting classes