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Teaching english as a second language can often be a challenging task. When attempting to educate a group of students on a new language, there are various aspects that must be considered. One of these aspects is age. Even though the subject matter is the same, there are major differences between young learners and adult learners that can impact the effectiveness and outcome of a lesson. While young learners are quick to retain vocabulary and language elements, they are harder to keep motivated and engaged in a lesson. Conversely, adult learners tend to be more motivated, but have difficulty absorbing the language quickly and proficiently. For young learners, picking up a new language comes almost naturally. They are able to take in and use a vast range of vocabulary at a much faster pace than their adult counterparts.
This is due to their uncanny ability to hear a word and its definition and relate it to an image that appears in their heads, thus making its application fast and proficient. They also associate words with emotions and feelings furthering their retention and appliance. These abilities give them an advantage over adult learners because they are not inhibited by the necessity of translating the new language into their native language in order to comprehend it. By bypassing this often times cumbersome step, they can learn the language efficiently. Nevertheless, teaching young learners still has its obstacles. While they are able to retain and apply the language, they struggle to grasp elements of grammar. They also have issues staying motivated and attentive during lessons. In order to improve these problems, a teacher should provide a variety of activities throughout class time in order to keep young
learners interested. They should also implement different learning styles in order to stimulate students. This would require using images, audio pieces, and getting students moving during lessons (Nunan, 2011). Although adult learners are not as adept at absorbing language vocabulary like young learners, they make up for it in other areas. Adult learners tend to be much more motivated and willing to work hard to learn a language. This is often based on their reasons for learning the language in the first place. Many adult learners take on a second language in order to advance in their studies or go further in their careers, so they have major incentives to do well and learn quickly. Furthermore, they tend to need to apply their newly acquired language skills in a real life setting, allowing them practice outside of the classroom. This proves to be an advantage over young learners. Additionally, adult learners are intellectually capable of understanding the complexities
of grammar, which is a struggle for young learners. However, adult learners have their issues as well. They tend to translate newly taught vocabulary back into their native language in order to fully grasp the definition, but this is inefficient and complicated making it difficult for them to fully comprehend the language (Wlodkowski, 1999). Teaching any age group has its advantages and disadvantages. young learners and adult learners both possess abilities that both help and inhibit their ability to be successful in learning a second language. young learners absorb vocabulary and language quickly, but struggle to stay motivated and interested during lessons. Adult learners are engaged and willing to learn, but have issues with retention and application. It is the responsibility of the teacher
to recognize these differences and adapt their lessons accordingly in order to have successful course. Works Cited Nunan, David ,. Teaching english to young learners. Anaheim, CA: Anaheim UP, 2011. Print. Wlodkowski, Raymond J. Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive guide for Teaching All Adults. san francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999. Print.
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