Life-Long Learning

Objective

“There are few educators who would disagree with the principle that lifelong learning is a good thing but the important questions are about the types of learners that the concept promotes, the life that it encourages us to lead, who benefits from this and the nature of the society that it upholds.”

Areas to focus on in this reflection about the above mentioned quote are:
  • Types of learners the concept promotes 
  • The life it encourages us to lead 
  • Who benefits from this (personally and as a society) 
Reflective

Upon reflection, it is often the case that classes, whether in the public or private sectors, are made up of students from all over the world with various backgrounds. As an ESL teacher in the private sector in particular, students can range in age from teenagers to adults approaching retirement. I had never really thought about the impact of globalization on a classroom before, and its effects on instructional design and delivery. Classes must be inclusive because of this and also foster a desire for learning. While motivation for language learning may be extrinsic for most of our students,(getting a promotion, changing careers, immigrating, etc.) the opportunity to (re)shape attitudes towards learning, and to assist in their life-long learning is always prevalent.

Interpretive

A common goal shared these by language learners is that they need additional skills for economic reasons, which often results in a pressure to learn. This type of life-long learning has been promoted through academic capitalism as younger learners shop for the best brand in learning and the knowledge economy for employed learners who are keeping up with the demands of an ever changing workplace (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p.3). These concepts imply that the motives for each student in a class are commonly based on a pressure they feel to advance. Therefore, adult educators should foster an atmosphere of self-directed learning and autonomy among learners by tailoring their learning outcomes to the specific needs and backgrounds of the students (where possible) by drawing upon their non-formal and informal learning experiences.

When reading this quote, I came to the realization that the nature of the society that my lifelong learning upholds is similar to those of the learners in my classes; thus, helping me build stronger rapport and lesson objectives though my deeper understanding of the needs of my students. One insight I have gained from this quote is that it is important to anticipate the pressures of lifelong learning from various cultures, and to be considerate when designing lessons.

Decisional

Every good language lesson should begin with a pre-lesson needs assessment. This needs-assessment can take many forms, such as a survey/questionnaire, a discussion amongst students, looking at cases related to a topic. In the future, I will design my lessons to more fully focus on incorporating learner reflection on their experiences in order to better facilitate a connection between previous learning and the task at hand. In this way I hope to encourage learners to draw on their experiences as life-long learners and to be able to tailor future lessons to their personal input. One way to do this is to incorporate content-based instruction (CBI), The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition published an article stating that intrinsic motivation is fostered through engagement. When students are personally invested in the lesson, they will focus less on the language of instruction and use their critical thinking skills more (CARLA, 2016). Therefore, planning lessons from a student-centered approach is an effective way to meet the life-long learning element in the classroom. This can be done by having students research and present on areas of interest to them. This increases independence and confidence, while simultaneously helping learners develop a wider knowledge of the world.

Bibliography

Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. (2016). Content-Based Second Language Instruction: What is it? University of Minnesota.

Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult Learning Linking Theory and Practice. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

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