An ethnography of older adult second language learners' expectations for success

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dc.contributor.advisor Ely, Christopher M. en_US Stoneberg, Carla K. en_US 2011-06-03T19:31:36Z 2011-06-03T19:31:36Z 1995 en_US 1995
dc.identifier LD2489.Z68 1995 .S7 en_US
dc.description.abstract A recent phenomenon widely noted among international volunteer agencies and church mission boards is an increase in the number of older adults offering service in foreign countries. To be effective, these people often need to learn a new language. However, much evidence has shown that older adults have a more difficult time than their younger adult counterparts in acquiring a second language.The case studies in this ethnography describe the language learning experiences of 26 adult students of Spanish during their first trimester at a language school in Central America. Most were planning some type of missionary service in Latin American countries after graduation. There were nine younger learners (20-39 years of age), eight middle-aged learners (40-49) years), and nine older learners (50-65 years). The research centered on these students' language learning self-image and expectations for success. The purpose was to learn more about what happens to adults, especially older learners, as they attempt to acquire a second language in a school located in a naturalistic setting and where classes are comprised of learners of mixed ages. Factors relevant to success and failure were investigated in the hope that language acquisition could be facilitated for these people.The researcher functioned as a participant-observer, taking a full load of classes and also conducting bi-weekly tape-recorded private interviews with the other 25 learners. Other data were obtained from language-learning journals and from observations of the students in their classrooms, community activities, and local homes. The teachers also shared what they had observed over the years about the characteristics of successful adult learners. A mail questionnaire was completed by 47 alumni of the school.The findings illuminated problems some learners have in balancing needs for immersion into the new culture and fellowship with same-culture classmates, finding good conversation partners in the community, obtaining useful types and amounts of error correction from native speakers, learning to shed ethnocentrism, and coping with differences between learning and teaching styles in the classroom. Specific suggestions are offered for adults wishing to obtain the most from their language school investment. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.format.extent x, 451 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Language acquisition -- Age factors. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Spanish language -- Study and teaching -- English speakers -- Case studies. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Adult education -- Case studies. en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Language and languages -- Study and teaching. en_US
dc.title An ethnography of older adult second language learners' expectations for success en_US Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3248]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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