Psychological Issues in Language Learning

language learning

There are several problems that an educator faces when teaching adults a new language. The challenge increases when the adult has an exceptional life experience yet they are still stuck at an elementary level of education due to various factors. That could be psychological or physical in language learning. A research was conducted to analyze the type and the extent of the difficulties of language learning that the adults go through. Some of the problems that they face have been explained below. A better understanding of the psychological issues on language learning can go a long way in enhancing the pedagogical practice of a teacher in an adult learner’s class.

For adult learners, involvement in education is a very conscious thought for them. They are highly motivated and disciplined. They have a major goal which they would like to achieve in their social or professional life. This means that they are focused. Adult learners have a practical attitude towards language learning which means that they desire to obtain skills that they can use in their daily life. Adults also have a lot of personal and professional experiences which they can apply to the language learning process. They are very independent in their thinking and thus require independent teaching methods.

The Issues

Fear of Making Mistakes

Despite all these good qualities, it is still difficult to teach adults a new language. The psychological barriers are the most challenging. One challenge is fear of making mistakes. As an adult, they are prone to perfectionism. They believe that if they can set their mind to achieve it they can. They also, on the other hand, believe that silence is golden. This can be translated to mean that they would rather do nothing than try and end up making a mistake. This is why most adult learners opt to give out their essay writing assignments to be done by professionals so that they may not fail.

Lack of Time

Another challenge is lack of time. As an adult, they have many responsibilities. They have jobs, families to take care of, public duties to fulfill and bills to pay. This means that they have very little time to spend on learning something new. It makes the learning process much more difficult since the educator cannot assign homework and demand it should be completed on time.

Anxiety

Anxiety often occurs due to various reasons. The learner may lack confidence in their abilities. They may be anxious about the financial cost of the education, feeling that going to school is irrelevant, lack of moral support from friends, family or workmates. Nevertheless, the biggest cause of anxiety is the fear of showing that they are incompetent.

Solutions

It is the responsibility of the educator to help the learner overcome some of the psychological barriers. To overcome the fear of making mistakes and anxiety, the educator should inform the learner about the curriculum, syllabus, student outcomes, expectations and other aspects of the training so that the learner is aware of what to expect. Inform the learners about their duties as a student. The students will be prepared for the next class you will teach thus it will reduce the fear of making mistakes. It will also boost their confidence in that they have some knowledge about the class beforehand.

Positive reinforcement

Is highly encouraged when the learner achieves a task.  When a student does something good, reward them. Remember that despite them being adults, an educators approval means a lot to them. Use positive words to encourage them also when they fail. A few motivational words, positive phrases, inspirational words and in general positive thinking go a long way in improving the learning experience.

The educator can also create a forum that will allow the students to exchange their opinions freely. They can talk about their opinion on a certain subtopic or how to make the class more interesting. The forum could also be used to hold group discussions so that they can boost each other academically. They can challenge each other academically on these forums. Without forgetting, the forums will be a great way to form an interaction among themselves.

Sometimes the challenges are not only psychological

Learning a new language is difficult. Perception of foreign speech results in some difficulties associated with the specifics such are:

  1. The process of hearing
  2. The speech ability of the adult learner
  3. Pronunciation of native speakers of the language
  4. Acquisition of social-cultural and social linguistic opponents of communicative competence

Conclusion

In conclusion, the mind, the learning process, and the language are linked together. This means that, as an educator, in order to enhance the learning of a foreign language, you need to understand the adult learner’s feelings, behaviors, emotions, motives and mental health processes. As an educator, you should also consider the implications of a foreign language to the student and to you as an individual.

Which other psychological issues do adult learners face?

Author ~ Kevin Nelson

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