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How Age, Motivation, and Learning Styles Impact Second Language Acquisition


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Title: How Age, Motivation, and Learning Styles Impact Second Language Acquisition

How Age, Motivation, and Learning Styles Impact
Second Language Acquisition
  • By Violet Eyanagho, Lori Granado, Rachel
    Rhodes, and Janae Terry

  • Violet Eyanagho
  • Materials/Research on Learning Styles
  • Fillmore Snow, Ellis, Spada Connections
  • PowerPoint Preparation
  • Lori Granado
  • Research/Sections on Age
  • PowerPoint Preparation
  • Rachel Rhodes
  • Research/Sections on Learning Styles
  • General Beliefs/New Research/Connections
  • PowerPoint Presentation Design/Formatting
  • Quick-Write Activity
  • Janae Terry
  • Research/Sections on Motivation
  • Video Component
  • PowerPoint Preparation

Our Purpose
  • To discuss, evaluate, and synthesize how age,
    motivation, and learning styles affect English
    Language Learners
  • To evaluate original and current research to
    identify key findings and practices
  • To make connections from the research to valuable
    classroom practices that enhance ELL learning in
    the classroom

Why Is It Important to Learn a Second Language?
Find Out Here
Cat vs. Fish
  • On a blank sheet of paper, please answer the
    following questions.

Remember/Recuerde Dont worry too much about
grammar. Just write as much as you can letting
your ideas flow.
  • Why is it important to learn a second language?
  • If applicable, what has kept you from learning a
    second language? (ie Age, Culture, etc.)
  • If applicable, what were some difficulties that
    you had learning a second language?
  • What helps you learn the best?

General Beliefs
Age Motivation Learning Styles
The Critical Age Hypothesis Children are more apt to acquire a second language than adults. Innate ability to learn The brain is configured to acquire language more efficiently Learned under social constructs There are critical points/ages in which students must acquire a second language or fluency in that language will not be developed fully. Instrumental-Reasons to learn a second language are functional and thus related to career, academic, social factors Extrinsic-External Influences Integrative-Reasons to learn a second language are more internal. There is positive attitude, a level of empathy, a wish to be assimilated into the language group Intrinsic-Internal Influences Integrative and Instrumental-Integrative and instrumental were the key types of motivation and the most focused upon by teachers in order to encourage student learning Samad, Etemadzadeh, and Far,2012, p. 433. Learning Styles- an individuals natural, habitual, and preferred way of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills (Kinsella, 1995, p. 171). Learning Strategies- Specific mental and communicative processes procedures that learners employ in order to learn and use language (Wong and Nunan, 2011 Chamot, 2005). Based on a students preferred learning style, he/she will use one or more learning strategies to complete an academic task. It is believed that learners who have developed skills in learning-how-to-learn will be better able to exploit classroom learning opportunities effectively, and will be more adequately equipped to continue with language learning outside the classroom (Wong and Nunan, 2011).
General BeliefsLearning Styles Cont.
This is a focus for SLA Educators
  • There are many different ways to characterize or
    categorize learning styles.

(Saville-Troike, 2012) (Fleming,
1992) (Myers, 1962)
Oxford, 1993 Willing, 1994
New Research
Age Motivation Learning Styles
Age may not be a significant factor in hindering secondary language acquisition. Adults have Greater analytical ability More motivation to learn Greater real-world knowledge Stronger pragmatic skills Attitude may be another contributing factor. Thus, new research is being conducted to determine its impact on the motivation to learn. According to Orujlou and Vahedi (2011) there are many factors in describing attitudes including students past Religion Their family associations Where they work Where they live What their goals are How much money they make Where they went to school Orujlou Vahedi, 2011, p.997) Proponents argue that learning styles are Excellent tools for teachers to use in designing instructional activities to meet student learning needs Are important for learners to identify in order to recognize their strengths and thus expand their learning potential. (Oxford, 2003, p. 271-278)) Opponents, argue that learning styles are Conceptually confusing practitioners Encourage a cultural tendency to look for explanations for behavior and attainment in the e wrong place (Scott, 2010, p. 5-17)
Connecting Original research to the New Research
Age Motivation Learning Styles
The critical age hypotheses is challenged in numerous ways. The measures of success is not defined Adults have higher cognitive abilities. One reason for the apparent inconsistency in research finding is that some studies define relative success as initial rate of learning (where, contrary to popular belief, older learners have an advantage) while other studies define it as ultimate achievement (where learners who are introduced to the L2 in childhood indeed do appear to have an edge. Saville-Troike 2012, p.87 The new research is extending the search more into attitudes. Orujlou and Vahedi (2011) speak of attitudes as as an important factor that we are only now beginning to investigate(p.997). Samad, Etemadzadeh, Far emphasized the dynamic dimension of motivation and believed that research should evolve over time. The essence is that motivation concerns the fundamental question of why people think and behave as they do, and we should never assume that we know the answer(Samad et al, 2012, p.433). There is still a debate raging about the effectiveness of learning styles upon student learning, and recent research doesnt provide a clear answer. As Scott (2010, p. 5) explains, Research conducted over the last 40 years has failed to show that individual attributes can be used to guide effective teaching practice. Dunn, Pratt-Johnson, and Honigsfeld (2008, p. 33) counter, ELLs need many varied opportunities to master the language and content necessary to succeed in school. Listening to the teacher needs to be supplemented with a range of learning-styles based instructional activities.
Snow and Fillmore Connections
Age Motivation Learning Styles
Textbooks on child development often claim that by the age of five or six children have already mastered the grammar of their native language, and that although they expand their vocabularies in school and add literacy skills, for the most part children have acquired language before they go to school. Snow and Fillmore, 2000, p.7. All children have a long way to go developmentally before they can function as mature members of their speech communities. Snow and Fillmore, 2000, p.7. As they progress through the grades, children will acquire the grammatical structure and strategies for the more sophisticated and precise ways of using language that are associated with maturity, with formal language use, and with discussing challenging topics. Snow and Fillmore, 2000, p.7. Teachers who respect their students home languages and cultures, and who understand the crucial role they play in the lives of the children and their families can help children make the necessary transitions in ways that do not undercut the role that parents and families must continue to play in their education and development. Snow and Fillmore, 2000, p. 12. Teachers who do not recognize the validity of other ways of speaking can undermine their students confidence in their own communicative abilities. Snow and Fillmore, 2000, p. 5. Teachers are responsible for selecting educational materials and activities at the right level and of the right type for all of the children in their classes. Teachers need to understand how to design the classroom language environment so as to optimize language and literacy learning and to avoid linguistic obstacles to content area learning. American school culture is greatly concerned with individual differences in learning ability, and judgments about ability are often based on teacher evaluations of childrens language behaviors. American educators take seriously the idea that people differ in abilities and aptitudes, and they believe that such differences require different treatment in school.
Ellis Connections
Age Motivation Learning Styles
Language learning, whether it occurs in a naturalistic or an instructed context, is a slow and laborious process. Children acquiring their first language take between 2 and 5 years to achieve full grammatical competence, during which are exposed to massive amounts of input. The same is undoubtedly true of second language acquisition. If learners do not receive exposure to the target language, they cannot acquire it. Ellis, 2008 While it is probably true that teachers can do little to influence students extrinsic motivation, there is a lot they can do to enhance their intrinsic motivation. Ellis, 2008, p. 5. the best motivational intervention is simply to improve the quality of our teaching instructional clarity explaining things simply teaching at a pace that is not too fast and not too slow. Ellis, 2008, p. 5 Teachers can cater to variation in the nature of their students aptitude by adopting a flexible teaching approach involving a variety of learning activities. They can also make use of simple learner-training materials designed to make students more aware of their own approaches to learning and to develop awareness of alternative approaches. Studies of good language learners suggest that successful language learning requires a flexible approach to learning. Thus, increasing the range of learning strategies at learners disposal is one way in which teachers can help them to learn.
Spada Connections
Age Motivation Learning Styles
In general, older, learners, especially those with experience in the study of their own or other languages, are more receptive to isolated grammatical instruction. Spada, 2013, p. 198. Adult learners, in a variety of language learning contexts, have been shown to be more aware of integrated FFI as feedback on language form. Spada, 2013 Teachers should not prevent learnersfrom combining a concern with language use with worry about formal accuracy in terms of specific language items. .for some learners at least, feedback that comes during communicative interaction may have a positive effect on motivation. Spada, 2013, p. 189. Other factors such as individual learning styles and previous experience learning languages can also lead to different preferences for learning The importance of isolated lessons will be determined by differences in the specific language feature that is being taught as well as by differences in learners' and teachers' characteristics, abilities, and preferences
So, how do we support ELLs in the classroom?
  • Start With These Ideas.
  • With each activity, ask yourself, How can I use
    this to help my students develop more language?
  • Create an environment where a students home
    language or L1 is included and valued
  • Become a second language learner yourself.

Useful Checklist and Strategies For the Classroom
  • Here is a checklist that weve compiled for you
    to possibly use in the classroom
  • Levines Key Ideas to Remember While Teaching

Impact in the Classroom
  • In a nutshell, here is what you can take away.
  • Age- There is still debate on the critical period
    on the linguistic and language development in the
    ability to acquire a second language. As
    educators we have to take into consideration the
    age group of the students we are working with and
    what strategies we will use.
  • Motivation-Learners need quality instruction,
    input, interaction, and opportunities for
    meaningful output, not only to make progress, but
    also to maintain motivation for language
    learning(Orujlou Vahedi, 2011, p. 995).
  • Learning Styles-While the research may not lead
    to a conclusive answer, learning styles may still
    be a valuable resource for you to use when
    teaching. Nevertheless, keep yourself updated
    with the latest and most reliable research.
    Consider, even, working with researchers to share
    your experiences.

  • Chamot, A. U., 2005. Language learning strategy
    instruction current issues and research. Annual
    Review of Applied Linguistics 25, 112-130.
  • Daskalovska, N.,Gudeva, L. K., Ivanovska, B.
    Learner Motivation and Interest Procedia - Social
    and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 46, 2012, Pages
    11871191 http//
  • Dunn, R., Pratt-Johnson, Y., Honigsfeld, A.
    (2008). Matching styles to learners. Language
    Magazine The Journal of Communication and
    Education, 7(9), 28-34. Retrieved on July 28,
    2013 from http//
  • Ellis, R. (2008). Principles of instructed second
    language acquisition. Retrieved on July 28, 2013
    from http//
  • Felder, R. M. (1995). Learning and teaching
    styles in foreign and second language education
    Retrieved on July 28 from http//
  • Fillmore, L. W. (2000). What teachers need to
    know about language Retrieved on July 28,2013
    from http//
  • Fleming, N.D. Mills, C. (1992). Not Another
    Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. To
    Improve the Academy, 11, 137-155.
  • Hakuta, K. K., Bialystok, E. E., Wiley, E. E.
    (2003). Critical Evidence A Test of The
    CriticalPeriod Hypothesis for SecondLanguage
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    (Wiley-Blackwell), 14(1), 31.
  • Kinsella, K., 1995. Understanding and empowering
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    Styles in the ESL/EFL Classroom. Heinle, Boston,
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    Brain-based research and english language
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    Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 81(5),
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    Teaching and Teacher Education An International
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Bibliography Continued
  • Myers, I. Briggs. (1962). The Myers-Briggs type
    indicator. Palo Alto, Calif. Consulting
    Psychologists Press.
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