Adult Learning in the Language Classroom

Adult Learning in the Language Classroom

This month we are publishing Adult Learning in the Language Classroom by Stacey Margarita Johnson. Here, Stacey explains why there is such a need for her book amongst language instructors.

This past week, a fifth year grad student and I were talking about his interest in second language acquisition (SLA), and I mentioned that, in the spring, I will be teaching a course on theory and research in SLA, a course he will be unable to take as he works on his dissertation. Even as he was preparing for a faculty role in languages and teaching several elementary Spanish courses every year, this student had not found opportunities to pursue further study of effective classroom practices. I have frequently had similar conversations with faculty and grad students at various colleges and universities. Language instructors sincerely want to base their classroom practice on theory, research, and proven practices, but lack time and resources for discovering and implementing those ideas in their classrooms.

I, therefore, hope my book Adult Learning in the Language Classroom can be a practical and accessible resource for instructors in such a position. It explores several themes and also:

  • reports the results of a case study conducted in a first-semester Spanish classroom at a community college;
  • explores how several key adult learning theories intersect with current topics in second language acquisition to inform language teaching;
  • argues that, even in cases when students do not continue their language study beyond the first year, beginning foreign language courses at the college level can promote essential learning outcomes when instruction is consistent with best practices in adult education;
  • recommends classroom practices drawn from the results of my research that contribute to deep learning in the adult language classroom;
  • explores the value of a beginner’s language course for adults from both a program and classroom perspective.

In particular, instructors interested in critical pedagogy and social justice themes will be interested in reading about the classroom I studied. The instructor in this classroom was interested in disrupting her students’ preconceived ideas about the world and was quite successful in promoting intercultural competence in her classroom. In my analysis, I emphasize that language instruction should be about learning to communicate complex ideas in a diverse world. Teaching for diversity development and transformation is possible when students engage intellectually and make meaningful, authentic contact with another language and culture.

Adult learning through language study means a lot to me personally in addition to being a theme in my research. If you read my book and want to add your perspective, I would love to hear from you by email (stacey.m.johnson@vanderbilt.edu) or on Twitter (@staceymargarita).

If you would like more information about this book please see our website or contact Stacey as outlined above.

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