Differences of Young, Adolescent and Adult Learners
The age of students is a large factor for teachers consider in making decisions about how and what to teach. Teachers must take into account students’ learning needs, expectations, cognitive abilities, and skills. For instance, when teaching language, teachers respect children's need to learn languages through play which is different from adolescents who are in need of activities to trigger their cognitive abilities to understand abstract notions.
Some researchers say that children can learn languages faster than adults. Children can more easily pick up new vocabulary and assimilate new language patterns. Researchers also think that children are more motivated and more cooperative than adults who have psychological barriers to learning from past experiences with language learning. In this article, I will consider the characteristics of students at different ages examining young children, adolescents and adult learners in terms of learning differences and motivations.
- They can learn through talking about themselves, families and their lives.
- They are curious to learn and discover new concepts on their own.
- They like to use their imagination and to discover things.
- They naturally need to touch, see, hear and interact to learn.
- Because their attention span is limited, they need engaging and entertaining activities in order to not lose interest.
- They like to cooperate and work in groups.
- They need support and encouragement while learning.
- Teachers need to work their students individually because they need to be guided.
- They are in search for personal identity.
- They are in need of activities that meet their needs and learning expectations.
- They become disruptive when they lose interest in the lesson or feel bored.
- They need help and support from the teacher and to be provided with constructive feedback.
- They can draw upon a variety of resources in the learning environment,including personal experience, the local community, and the Internet.
- They need the teacher to build bridges between the syllabus and their world of interests and experiences.
- They can learn abstract issues and do challenging activities.
- Their personal initiative and energy are moved into action through meaningful involvement with relevant and current content.
- Adults are more disciplined than adolescents.
- They have a clear understanding of their learning objectives.
- They need to be involved in choosing what and how to learn.
- They prefer to rely on themselves and work on their own pace.
- They come to the classroom with a wide range of knowledge, expectations, and experiences.
- They are able to do a wide range of activities.
- Adults learn at various rates and in different ways according to their intellectual ability, educational level, personality, and cognitive learning styles.
- They come into the classroom with diverse experiences, opinions, thoughts, and beliefs which need be respected.