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DESCRIBING LEARNERS

AGE
Different ages have different needs, competences, and

cognitive skills.
Steven Pinker acquisition of language (L1, L2 or
Foreign) is guaranteed for children up to age of six and
steadily compromised until puberty, and is rare
thereafter.
(1) YOUNG CHILDREN
Up to the ages of nine or ten, learn differently from older
children, adolescents, and adults in the following ways:
They respond to meaning even if they do not understand individual
words.
They often learn indirectly rather than directly learning from
everything around them rather than only focusing on the precise topic
they are being taught.

Their understanding comes not just from explanation,


but also from what they see and hear also have a
chance to touch and interact with.
Generally display 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.
They have a limited attention span easy to get bored
unless the activities are appealing for them.

(2) ADOLESCENTS
Secondary schools students.
Less motivated and present outright discipline
problems (Puchta and Schratz 1993:1)
A person who is searching for individual identity.
But if they are engaged, they will have :
A great potential for creativity,
A great capacity to learn, and
Passionate commitment to things

Teacher should :
Provoke student engagement with material which is
relevant and involving

Encourage the students to respond to texts and


situations with their own thoughts and experience,
rather than just by answering questions and doing
abstract learning activities.
Give them tasks which they are able to do, rather
than risk humiliating them.
Ask them to address learning issues directly
Discuss abstract issues with them
Provoke intellectual activity by helping them to be
aware of contrasting ideas and concepts which they
can resolve by themselves.

(3) ADULT LEARNERS


They can engage with abstract thought.
They have a whole range of life experiences to draw on.
They have expectations about learning process, and may
already have their own set patterns of learning.
Tend to be more disciplined and often prepared to struggle
on despite boredom.
Come to class with a rich range of experiences which allow
teachers to use a wide range of activities with them.
Often have a clear understanding of why they are learning
and what they want to get out of it.
But, they can be critical of teaching methods previous
learning experiences make them uncomfortable with the
current unfamiliar teaching patterns.

They may have experienced failure or criticism


at school which makes them anxious and underconfident about learning a language.
They worry that their intellectual powers may be
diminishing with age.

Learner Differences on
characteristics

Intelligence
To refer to performance on certain kinds of tests

(IQ).
Tests are associated with success in school, and
a link between intelligence and 2L learning.
High IQ = successful a learner would be.

Aptitude
Measure on ability of students
Learning quickly is the distinguishing feature of

aptitude.

Personality influence in success of


language learning
Self-esteem
Empathy
Dominance
Talkativeness
Responsiveness
Introvert
Extrovert

Motivation and attitudes


Positive attitudes and motivation lead to

success in L2 (Gardner, 1985).


Robert Gardner and Wallace Lambert (1972)
coined the terms :
Integrative motivation language learning for
personal growth and cultural enrichment
Instrumental motivation language learning for
more immediate or practical goals.
Both showed a success in L2 learning.

Motivation in the classroom setting


Motivated students are usually those who
participate actively in class, express interest in
the subject-matter, and study a great deal.
Graham Crookes and Richard Schmidt (1991)
pointed the higher levels of interest in learning
by :
Motivating students into the lesson
Varying the activities, tasks, and materials
Using co-operative rather than competitive goals

Learner preferences
Learner styles by Keith Willing :
Convergers

Prefer solitary than groups


Independent
Confident in their own abilities
Analytic
Cool and pragmatic

Conformist
Prefer to emphasise learning about language over learning to use
it.
Dependent
Perfectly happy to work in non-communicative classrooms
Prefers to see well-organized teachers

Concrete learners
Enjoy the social aspects of learning
Like to learn from direct experience
Interested in language use and language as communication
rather than language as a system
Enjoy games and group work in class

Communicative learners
Language use orientated
Comfortable out of class and show a degree of confidence
Willingness to take risks which their colleagues may lack
Much more interested in social interaction with other speakers
of the language.
Perfectly happy to operate without the guidance of a teacher.

Learner styles by Reid (1995) :


Visual
Aural listening/auditory
Kinaesthetic/Tactile physical actions/activities

Learner beliefs
Have strong beliefs and opinions about how

their instruction should be delivered.


Based on previous learning experiences and
the assumption.