К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012
Автор: Асылбаева Асель Булатовна
economic changes in our society brought along the necessity of constant and
continual education of an adult person. In modern conditions, knowledge
obtained at school or university is not enough for successful career
advancement. Within the lifetime period, it is necessary for a person to
enlarge his knowledge, raise his educational level. Nowadays a person can do
nothing without the English language due to the close economic relations of our
country with foreign countries. Transition to market economy raised the situation
when many people have to acquire new knowledge, skills and experience. This
situation is especially troublesome for adults.
The group who
suffered most from the unfavorable socio-political situation was the
middle-aged group. This group also does not want to "give up." They
want to tune in to the times of change and learn English, which in many cases
they now need for their career. Their younger colleagues, people who graduated
from universities just several years ago when the educational institutions had
not yet started to see foreign language learning as a priority, also have a lot
to catch up with. They did learn some English, but one could hardly call them
fluent speakers of the language. So they too take up English courses. However,
such people need special methods of teaching English.
First, it is
important to determine an adult person. There are many definitions to
adulthood. Y. Kulyutkin, a famous andrologist, defines an adult person in the
following way: “An adult person is a socially formed person, able to make his
own decisions according to the norms and demands of the society. It is a person
who leads a great variety of lives: production, social, private… He makes
decisions by himself and controls his behavior” .
An adult person
has a high level of self-comprehension: he perceives himself as a self-managed
and independent person in economic, judicial and psychological spheres. An important
distinguishing feature of an adult person is a great volume of life experience:
household, professional and social.
Thus according to
the key concepts, S. Zmeyev, another famous andrologist, gives the following
definition to “an adult person”: an adult person is a person who possesses
physiological, psychological, social and moral maturity, economic independence,
life experience and the level of self-awareness enough for a responsible
self-controlled behavior.  He states that an adult learner is determined as
a person who has five basic characteristics, which differ him from “non-adult”
1. He realizes
himself to be an independent self-controlled person;
2. He accumulates
great life experience (household, professional and social)
3. His motivation
is explained by his wish to tackle his life and professional aims and reach
concrete objectives with the help of educational activities;
4. He strives for
quick implementation of his knowledge and skills;
5. His educational
activity is determined by time, professional, household, professional and
In common, these
factors influence the whole process of learning and demand quite different
organization of the learning process.
Due to the
definitions of an adult person, it is necessary to rely on these characteristics
that are to expect him to treat the process of learning in a responsible and
conscious way. Moreover, as an adult person does real work, his interest in
studying will be connected with the basic professional activities and other
social roles. That is why an adult person will pursue concrete practical and
real aims. It is also quite clear, if an adult person ventures educational
activities, so it means he has a great motivation in it. With the help of
studying adults want to tackle some life and professional problems, e.g.
communication with colleagues from foreign countries, business trips or reading
professional literature. Furthermore, an adult person wants to practice the
knowledge, skills obtained in the process of studying in the shortest period of
If an adult person
treats his studying responsibly, first he assesses his real possibilities and
What are the
possibilities and abilities of adults to studying? Can they study well? These
are quite important and difficult questions. It depends on physiological,
social and other factors that influence the learning process of an adult
age some physiological functions of human body connected with the process of
learning weaken a bit (eyesight, memory, thinking processes). But, first, these
negative phenomena appear after 50. Second, at the same time some positive
characteristics come: life experience, thoroughness, ratiocination, inclination
for analysis, etc. 
The researches in
the sphere of psychology showed that the learning potential of adults from 20
to 60 does not change essentially. And the teacher’s task is to take into
account all age-dependent psychophysiological features of adults while
organizing the teaching English process.
An adult learner
is short of time because of his family and work duties, so he has little time
left for studying. However, the main difficulties of an adult learner at the
process of learning are of psychological character .
Why does it
happen? Why do adults start their studying with mixed feelings of hope,
expectations and anxiety, and even fear?
Because, on the
one hand, striving for a needful aim they really want to achieve it and change
for better their life, work, position in the society, but on the other hand,
they have fear of taken responsibility for their study. Adults are anxious
about their abilities to learning, to reveal their incompetence in the given
field, to lose in comparison with other learners. Some adult people feel
discomfort at the idea of coming back to school, desks, studying.
To help adults to
overcome their fear of studying, it is necessary for a teacher to know adults’
way of thinking when they enter the language courses classroom, and therefore
to organize the process of teaching in a correct way.
P. Davies and M.
Rinvolucri look at the problem of anxiety by examining the classroom
environment and explaining circumstances in which adult learners may feel insecure
. Some classroom situations make students feel that they are constantly
being judged, they are isolated, and they lack control. Often teachers neglect
the atmosphere in the group and the behaviour of classmates lie at the root of
such feelings of insecurity.
Teachers may not
realize that they are often judgmental to their students in the classroom. They
may show approval or disapproval verbally as well as by their body language.
There are cases when teachers openly mocked their students or praised them
without smiling or making eye contact, thus making their positive reinforcement
manifestation of a teacher’s judgment is error correction. Whether the teacher
corrects the error explicitly, by providing the correction, or implicitly, by
indicating the kind of error and giving the student the opportunity for
self-correction, can make a difference. The latter technique gives adult
learners another chance and tells them that they are capable of
self-correction, while the former technique carries the message “You do not
meet our requirements.” Such a message can also be communicated when the
teacher answers her own questions before students can do so they, a very common
classroom practice. It is not surprising that weak students, who need more
positive feedback than their more proficient classmates, get less time (and
teacher’s patience) to answer than high achievers in the class. They are just
ignored by the teacher.
Adult learners are
also judgmental when they express their approval or disapproval, show
impatience, or mock one another. The teacher can control this behavior; as in
many cases, it reveals in a competitive classroom atmosphere. If the teacher
eliminates or minimizes competition for the sake of collaboration, there will
be fewer opportunities for judgmental behavior by classmates. All the sneers,
giggles, and snide remarks manifested by the show-off and aimed at winning
teacher approval are out of place if the teacher makes it clear that students
are expected to work together toward a common goal.
Adult learners may
feel isolated if they are made to feel anonymous. Teachers should use students’
names when eliciting and asking questions . Every student in the classroom
is a person first, with a family, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. It is the task
of the teacher to tactfully enquire about those areas of the student’s life and
to get other students interested in them.
may also be caused by feeling disregarded. Very often teachers tend to have
their favorite students. Their favoritism is manifested in classrooms mainly by
inconsistent error correction and unfair distribution of turns. The best-liked
students have more opportunities to speak and their errors are often
Students may also
feel isolated if they feel deserted by the teacher - left on their own in a
classroom where no assistance is received from the teacher. Furthermore, adult
learners have every reason to feel isolated if, in addition, they find that
learning a foreign language is reduced to drills and has no connection to real
The feeling of
being alone among one’s adult learners is not uncommon in highly territorial
classrooms in which students never want to change their seats or switch
conversation partners. Thus, peer favoritism, with manifestations similar to
teacher favoritism, can contribute to feelings of isolation.
The arrangement of
desks can also create or contribute to isolation inside the classroom. If
students do not face one another, or if someone has a place that does not allow
eye contact with the teacher and fellow students, feelings of not belonging
The failure to
manage classroom discourse is the main reason students sometimes feel they are
being deprived of control. When turn stealing replaces turn taking such
feelings can occur. If a student is always late to answer a general solicit and
personal solicits directed to him are frequently appropriated by others, the
student will feel he lacks control over his role in classroom interaction.
Similar feelings may occur if group members are not willing to listen to one
another, openly show lack of interest, or interrupt the speaker. The teacher’s
explanations, if unclear or unsatisfactory, may lead to comparable frustration,
and the learners feel they have no control over the language as a system.
Finally, the feeling of loss of control may be caused by a domineering, controlling
teacher, who leaves students feeling that they have no influence over what is
going on in the classroom.
A fourth aspect of
the inhibiting language classroom has to do with feeling unworthy. If a course
is held in sub-standard premises and taught by an unqualified teacher, students
may subconsciously assume, “I get what I deserve.” In other words, if students
receive substandard teaching, then they are likely to believe they are
There is a wrong
statement that adult learners who feel anxious during the process of learning a
foreign language cannot succeed in mastering languages. However, comparing such
students with more successful learners A. Turula discovered that it is much
harder for anxious adult learners to achieve success in this sphere .
Thus, a teacher
should take into consideration all psychological characteristics of adults to
make the process of learning for an adult learner much easier. An adult learner
wants the learning process to meet all his expectations. Theoretical material
should be given briefly and effectively. The content of texts and exercises
should raise his interest. The methods, on the one hand, should coincide his
ability to perceive the knowledge consciously, and on the other hand, to
provide an active and cheery lesson after an intense working day.
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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012