Young learners vs Adult learners ‘With age comes experience’ and ‘You’re as young as you feel’ are two commonly held ideals among many groups of people the world over. While they both have a ring of truth to them, sometimes the way we feel and the experiences we have encountered in our lives can have a positive or negative effect on us. Aside from the age differences that exist between young learners and adult learners there are many more variances between the two that enable one to succeed where the other may struggle or even fail.
There is no doubt that learning a new language is difficult at any age. We all have to start somewhere, but our motivation is what ultimately drives us to succeed. In the case of young learners vs. adult learners, adult learners initially have the upper hand because chances are they had the choice to learn the new language and are highly motivated to succeed and achieve their personal or career goals with english
. This differs greatly from young learners, who’s decision the learn english
was likely their parents’ choice. However, as time progresses the goals of adult learners may change and young learners may find that they really enjoy learning english
and look forward to studying it more. If this were to happen then the roles would then either be reversed or equal out. However, this is dependent on each individual’s positive or negative response to the new language. For adult learners, the task of learning a new language can be more difficult because they have had more experience in speaking their mother tongue than young learners and are highly confident with it. Meanwhile, young learners, who are just starting out with their new language are not as readily shy to try and speak the new language because they are also still in the process of learning their mother tongue. Although it is of the utmost importance that the assimilation of a new language or information being learned is based on the linguistic knowledge of a student’s first language, here the young learners have the advantage because they are learning both languages concurrently and will likely be able to pick up on and internalize the material quicker than their adult counterparts.
With there being such a wide information gap between young learners and adult learners, it comes as no surprise that each group learns differently. Young learners, for example, are attracted to more interactive means of learning. If they can see, hear, smell or touch it they will be able to connect in their memory quicker. This is why many teachers incorporate a lot of songs and hands-on activities in their lesson plans and connect familiar pictures to new concepts when teaching. While this could be effective in connecting new concepts in the minds of adult learners as well, adult learners also tend to be more independent and seek out the information they believe will help them reach their goal the fastest. They also tend to concentrate more on the grammatical structure of their sentences as opposed to regurgitating the strict grammatical patterns that are taught to young learners. However, while this allows adult learners to experiment and be more creative with the language it also opens up the floor for more mistakes to be made before they have the standard grammatical patterns perfected.
All things considered both groups of learners have their strong and weak points to overcome to be able to succeed with english
. However, based on their language experience, younger learners appear to have more advantages than the adult learners, but in the end their personal motivation to succeed, the support they get from their teacher and their ability to learn are what counts the most.