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How to Teach English to Non-English Older Learners in Their

Unread postby ibougoin » Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:46 pm

Hello!

I am a doctoral student in HEAL (High Education & Adult Learning) and an ESL teacher. I recently became interested in teaching seniors in their 60’s/70’s English language. I have been coordinating this social project for one month and a half. We have first results but I still feel a gap in teaching elderly people.

The search for education blogs for ESL instructors who teach senior citizens did not give me convenient results. If you know some special blogs or forums, pls, let me know. For the moment, I decided to start this topic as a new one.

A few words about the project I am working for. We have 2 groups of seniors in their 60’s/70’s. There are 12 senior learners in each group. They meet once a week to have a 2-hour English lesson. Each of them passed special tests before the beginning of the programme. Their results will help us to judge about the progress.

The main idea of our ESL programme for seniors is:

- to teach them how to solve communication problems in English using their proper vocabulary;

- to help them to develop their own problem-solving strategies that they will be able to use in their daily lives each time they have to speak English.


However, we have an additional hypothesis that such groupal education of senior citizens will help them to extenuate the deterioration skills.

If you teach the elderly people, pls, share your experience with me and, together, I believe, we can make this process better. Waiting for yr collaboration,

Thank you in advance!
Inna
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Re: How to Teach English to Non-English Older Learners in Th

Unread postby ibougoin » Mon May 19, 2014 5:38 pm

I continue talking about my experience concerning teaching English to Older Learners.

According to a research made by Socrates Grundtvig Education and Culture Center, there is not a specified methodology and pedagogic for 50+. Consequently, there is not a specific approach in language training that can ensure the learning in the most efficient way (see p. 15 retrieved from http://www.senior-language.com/uploads/ ... rt_doc.pdf ). On the other hand, there are some particularities of teaching older learners. My colleagues and I discover these particularities step by step while our ESL program for older learners is going on. One of the difficulties is the encoding of special information.

The matter in question here is that elderly people with or without memory deficits have some problems concerning special relations, for example, the route learning performance (Caffo et al., 2012). So, if there is a need to teach our old learners how to explain the route, we, ESL teachers have to understand that our older learners might show difficulties in special orientation and in way-finding. Such difficulties have to be overcome in order to obtain positive results of our learning. And, it is up to us to figure out possible teaching strategies how to do.

At our language center we are trying the following: teach our older learners to explain the route, first of all, in teams. Both teams can see a picture of a part of a city on the wall (a 2D-plan). There are two captains, one for each team. These captains should point the way on the map (with the help of a pointer) while the members of each group in turn are giving directions and telling their captains where to go. They do it orally and also they show plaques with such words as ‘turn right’, ‘turn left’, ‘walk as far as the crossroads’, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmrFJCc8 ... JiXm9fbVew

Then, the group ‘constructs a city on the floor’: they put pictures named as ‘the pharmacy’, or ‘the florist’s’, or others on the floor, name the streets, add road signs. Students explain the route in turn moving around the constructed city.

Next step is to go outdoors and try to do it in a real city. We are going to do it soon.
Our hypothesis is that such training in class using a 2D-plan will help our older learners not only to perform an orientation task but also to overcome a difficulty of the encoding of special information that is a typical problem for elderly people.

References

Caffo, A., De Caro, M. F., Picucci, L., Notarnicola, A., Settanni, A., Livrea, P., Lanciona G. E., & Bosco, A. (2012). Reorientation deficits are associated with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen, 27(5), 321-330. doi: 10.1177/1533317512452035
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Re: How to Teach English to Non-English Older Learners in Th

Unread postby ibougoin » Tue May 20, 2014 10:48 am

Teaching Grammar and Sentence Construction to Seniors in Their 60’s/70’s Using the Cube Game

Another particularity of teaching older learners concerns memory difficulties. Here, I would like to make a logical connection between older learners’ anxious to have worse recall (Hubenthal, 2004) and their self-confidence which is one of the pillars of lifelong learning (Socrates Grundtvig, n.d.).

Involving older learners in cube games that promote memory improvement is a sure way to stimulate their self-confidence. For older learners, success at game playing becomes an important step towards their success at language learning. It is easier to build sentences with the help of word cubes. Consequently, it helps older learners to work on their self-esteem and become aware of their strengths that is so important for both their well-being and language progress.

We chose to use a grammar cube game that is played with six-sided cubes, each side having one grammar word (Do, Did, Have, Had, etc.), or a construction (Going to, Cant’s help but, etc.), or a grammar symbol (V-verb, V2-simple past, V3-past participle, etc.), or a pronoun (I, he, we, etc.), or an adverb (usually, often, etc.).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nueWpVt_ ... ew&index=7

All cubes are rolled onto the playing surface. Teacher pronounces sentences in older learner’s native language and asks them to make English sentences using the cubes. Participants build sentences changing declarative into interrogative, present tense into past, affirmative into negative, and so on. The game generates discussions of grammatical sentence structure that helps learners to understand English grammar better.

References

Hubenthal, W. (2004). Older Russian immigrants’ experiences in learning English: Motivation, methods, and barriers. Adult Basic Education, 14(2), 104-126.
Socrates Grundtvig (n.d.). Language course teaching methods for senior citizens. Retrieved from http://www.google.ru/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=& ... GQ&cad=rjt
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Re: How to Teach English to Non-English Older Learners in Th

Unread postby ibougoin » Sat May 31, 2014 5:37 am

ibougoin wrote:At our language center we are trying the following: teach our older learners to explain the route, first of all, in teams. Both teams can see a picture of a part of a city on the wall (a 2D-plan). There are two captains, one for each team. These captains should point the way on the map (with the help of a pointer) while the members of each group in turn are giving directions and telling their captains where to go. They do it orally and also they show plaques with such words as ‘turn right’, ‘turn left’, ‘walk as far as the crossroads’, etc.

Then, the group ‘constructs a city on the floor’: they put pictures named as ‘the pharmacy’, or ‘the florist’s’, or others on the floor, name the streets, add road signs. Students explain the route in turn moving around the constructed city.

Next step is to go outdoors and try to do it in a real city.


Encoding of Spatial Information: Older Learners’ Possible Difficulties in Orientation and Way-Finding

Language is necessary for spatial orientation. Older learners might have difficulties with gaining the sense of direction. In addition, if the matter in question is teaching English to older ESL learners, the fact that English language is a foreign language for them might add some additional difficulties concerning their syntactic and lexical abilities.

According to a research conducted by Bek et al. (2010), a lack of the syntactic and lexical abilities might lead to a decrease of person’s describing spatial relations that result in poor performance on orientation tasks.
I would like to remind that teaching older learners in our language school ‘Schola Iness Bougoin’, we trained them to perform reorientation tasks first in class and then wanted to try to do it outdoors in the streets of a real city.

Our hypothesis was that our special training in class using a 2D-plan will help older learners not only to perform an orientation task but also to overcome a difficulty of the encoding of spatial information that is a typical problem for elderly people. So, we went outdoors to do it in a real city and obtained positive results of the learning: our older students who had received special in-class training and experience before did not show difficulties in spatial orientation and in way-finding.

Performance on Orientation Tasks: Group 1 (video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Vo--LN26U&list=PLgmEICSPc4RFuPfzBKoA2lbJiXm9fbVew&index=8

Performance on Orientation Tasks: Group 2 (video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5qdt8VaE08&index=9&list=PLgmEICSPc4RFuPfzBKoA2lbJiXm9fbVew

The results of the final orientation test showed that both groups of our older learners managed to encode written route explanations and successfully arrived to the indicated point of the final meeting. However, it should be added that they seemed to be guided more by words than by syntactical structures of the sentences. This fact can be explained by the results of Bek et al. investigation that proved that “syntactic processes are not needed for integrating special cues for (re)orientation” (p. 656).

References

Bek, J., Blades, M., Siegal, M., & Varley, R. (2010). Language and spatial reorientation: Evidence from severe aphasia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(3), 646-658. doi: 10.1037/a0018281
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Conclusive Discussion: Teaching ESL to Seniors in Their 60’s

Unread postby ibougoin » Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:43 pm

When we started our project for older learners in their 60s/70s three months ago we had the following main objectives that were finally obtained:

* to teach them how to solve communication problems in English using their proper vocabulary;
* to help them to develop their own problem-solving strategies that they will be able to use in their daily lives each time they have to speak English.

According to Osorio (2008), doing activities of a creative and artistic nature, older learners will be able to continue their personal development and, as a result, to improve their quality of life. Before proceeding further, I would like to show you final performances of two groups of older learners in their 60s/70s we worked with:

Group 2 Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN-wC2gBqEE&index=10&list=PLgmEICSPc4RFuPfzBKoA2lbJiXm9fbVew
Group 1 Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7xCtsIl3eA&index=11&list=PLgmEICSPc4RFuPfzBKoA2lbJiXm9fbVew

As you could see, our older learners decided to talk about their life experience and touched upon such issues as travelling, dancing, going out, and singing. They also mentioned that it was important for them to study together as a team, believe in their success, and get results in the end.

Teaching them, we tried to encourage our older learners keeping studying, explaining that they could communicate more than they thought simply by using gestures, acting, or singing. During our older learners’ final performance we saw how they managed to do it combining creative elements with their English speech.

Everything that happened on the stage was prepared without any help from the part of their instructor. Our older learners proved again that they were able to learn a foreign language as anybody else. As coordinator of this project, I was sure that older learners needed to have opportunities for continuing to be socially and mentally active. Despite their age they could offer a lot more to themselves and to others.

Now, we have to analyze their final qualitative and quantitative questionnaires in order to statistically check how well our older learners improved their English language skills and if our program helped them to extenuate the deterioration skills. But, what we could see on the stage stood for the fact that our learners in their 60s/70s used their spare time to extend their knowledge and to achieve some things that they could not do before; that was indispensable for their personal growth.

P.S. We decided to continue this social program for the elderly in our language school in September 2014

References

Osorio, A. R. (2008). The learning of the elderly and the profile of the adult educator. Convergence, 41(2-3), 155-173.
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