“Teachers should be especially interested in differences among
language learners because in that sense teachers will find ways to help
their students become more successful.
Language learners differ in emotions, language aptitude, gender,
learning styles, approaches to language learning, and age.
By knowing learner characteristics teachers are sometimes able to help
students develop more positive characteristics and become better
language learners. Other times, teachers are able to adjust language
teaching approaches for their particular students and teaching
Many educators feel that helping students become better language
learners is essential so that they can become more autonomous and
extend their language learning beyond the classroom”. (Horowitz,
(2008, p. 3)
5. ¿Do age plays a major role in
making decisions on how and what
Harmer (2004) indicated that “The age of our students is
a major factor in our decisions about how and what to
teach. People of different ages have different needs,
competences, and cognitive skills.”
It is generally believed that children have an advantage
over adults in learning languages, children seem to pick
up new languages without effort because of the
plasticity of a young brain.
The main difference between children, adolescents and
adults has to do with their maturity level, which means
they learn in different ways. 6
• Respond to meaning (even if they
don´t understand word).
• Their understanding comes from
what they see and hear.
• Abstract concepts are difficult to
• Need individual attention an
• Are keen on talking about
• Get easily bored
• Use gestures, intonation and demonstrations.
• Be clear and direct in how you speak.
• Teach language through games.
• Use physical actions to produce language.
• Organize teaching around themes.
• Promote their imagination and creativity.
• Promote interaction and talk.
• Reward them
• Surprise them by using different objects such
as ball or puppet.
• Change the classroom setting.
• Formal grammar teaching might not be
• Greater ability for abstract
• Are notoriously hard to please
• They are passionate
committed when they are
• They are extremely vulnerable
to negative judgments.
• Beginning to increase their
experience of life.
• Cognitive skills are develop at
around age 15.
• Have a clear structure to your lessons.
• Adapt your lessons to different learning
• Expose them to different cultures.
• Give them something different to learn
about the language.
• Teach with examples rather than rules
• Reward good learning, to avoid disruptive
• Take an interest in your students’ lives
beyond the classroom.
• Be a positive role model.
• Praise them
• Can concentrate for longer
• They tend to be more
• Can learn in more abstract
• They are critical of teaching
• They are anxious because they
have experienced failure.
• May not be willing to make
mistakes or take risks.
• Use real-life situations and
their own life experiences.
• Use English as a practical
• Be aware on how they want to
learn. Suit their learning tastes.
• Ask them detailed questions to
understand your learners'
• The most common area they
want to focus is their fluency.
• Offer them achievable
• Have mature cognitive skills. 9
10. • Gender is often referred to the roles assumed and
performed by males and females students, their
attitudes and behaviors shown in the English class.
• Several studies on this aspect have found that females
have more positive attitude towards learning a second
language than males.
• Studies also have shown that low-achieving boys tend
to drop L2 classes more than low-achieving girls.
• Girls may be motivators to male-students, in many
cases girls’ leadership and coordination in team work
may be necessary in the ESL classroom environment.
11. • According to Neufel (1978), some students have
innate abilities for learning languages than
• Aptitude is a specific talent for language,
different from intelligence.
• Aptitude has high relation to language learning
success, while intelligence does not.
• “Researchers interested in cognitive differences
between language learners have turned their
attention from language aptitude to learning
styles, since language teachers must teach all
their students and not just those who score well
on language aptitude tests.” (Horowitz, (2008, p.
12. Motivation and
• Language learners have very different goals for language learning.
• Motivation is the thoughts and feelings which make us want to and
continue to want to do something and which turn our wishes into action.
• Many scholars have found a strong relationship between motivation and
language learning achievement.
• Close tied to motivation is learner attitudes towards the new language and
• Gardner (1985) reminds us that learning environments has a strong
influence on the actual attitudes and motivations that learners hold.
13. Personality variables
connection with SLA
Definition Connection with SLA success
Self-esteem Feeling of self-worth of the
Types: overall self-assessment,
specific self-esteem and task self-esteem
Extroverts are sociable, risk
taking lively and active.
Introverts are quiet and prefer
+++ connections with basic
+ connections with reading
and grammar skills.
Risk-taking Willingness to take risks + connections in moderate
risk-taking for testing
hypothesis about language.
Empathy Ability to put oneself in
Inhibition Extent to which individuals build
defenses to protect their egos.
Ability to deal with ambiguous
+ connections with listening
A + indicates a weak
correlation, whereas +++ shows
very strong connections
14. Affective filter
• Students learned at different paces the factor that
promotes language acquisition is the amount of
• Low anxiety has to be directed somewhere
Affective filter is a representation of the way in which
affective factors such as attitude, anxiety,
competitiveness, and other emotional responses can
help or hinder language learning. .
15. Cognitive/Learning Styles
• Preferred way in which individuals process information or
approach a task. It is a a tendency, but those individuals
favoring one style may switch to another in some
• The cognitive styles that have received most attention are
Field-dependent students and Field-independent students.
- Authority oriented learners
- Classroom dependent
-learn about language not
Concrete learners (Field
-Learn from experience
-language as communication
-Games & groups
(Field dependent active)
17. Teaching techniques appropriate for each
• Good at interactive instructions using
computers, classroom diaries or portfolios
• Like focus-on-form teaching
• Like individual pen-and-paper work in which
analysis is involved
• Like reflecting about the language
• Active participants
• Like any technique that allows independent
• Inductive learners who like to figure out
• These are the students who will ask
difficult and brilliant questions
• Like to be pointed out the objectives of the
• Like the use of visual materials
• Visual orientation for learning
• Reference guide and handouts which can be
read are very useful
• Reading method with demonstration
• Like workshops, interactive tutorial with
• Good at group-work cooperation
• Like games
• Like to use the language in communication
or to “see” it used.
23. Learning strategies
• Are defined as “specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques such
as seeking out conversation partners, or giving oneself
encouragement to tackle a difficult language task, used by students to
enhance their own learning”. (Scarcella & Oxford, 1992, p. 63).
• Learning strategies are classified into six groups: cognitive,
metacognitive, memory-related, compensatory, affective and social.
24. Learning strategies
Cognitive Enable the learner to manipulate the
language material in direct ways.
Reasoning, analysis, note-taking, summarizing,
synthesizing, outlining, etc.
Metacognitive Are employed for managing the learning
Identifying one’s own learning style preferences needs,
planning for an L2 task, gathering and organizing materials,
arranging a study space, monitoring mistakes, evaluating
task success, etc.
Memory-related Enable learners to retrieve information Through acronyms, rhyming, mental picture, body
movement (TPR), flashcards, location (on page or board),
Compensatory Are used for speaking and writing known
as communication strategies
Guessing form context in listening and reading, using
synonyms, the missing word for speaking and writing
activities, using gestures or pause words.
Affective Identify one’s mood and anxiety level Talk about feelings, rewarding oneself for good
performance, deep breathing, positive self-talk.
Social Help the learner work with others and
understand the target culture as well as
Asking questions, get verification, asking for clarification of
a confusing point, asking for help in doing a task, talking
with a native-speaking partner, exploring social and
25. Language Levels
26. Individual Variations
• Harmer points out that “If some people are better at some things
than others, this would indicate that there are differences in the ways
individual brains work. It also suggests that people respond
differently to the same stimuli”. (Harmer, 2001, p.45-46)
• How might such variation determine the ways in which individuals
learned most readily? How might affect the ways in which we teach?
• The following theories have tried to account individual variations.
• Each hemisphere has different functions, but the
differences are continuous.
• The dominant hemisphere. Is the one opposite to the
hand we use, so if we are right-handed, our dominant
hemisphere is the left one and vice versa.
31. Hemisphere specialization:
Language functions within the brain
• Temporal-order judgments
• Associative thought
• Analytic processing
• Right visual field
• Writing (Right-Handed)
• Holistic processing
• Stereognosis (faculty of
• Nonverbal environmental
• Visuospatial skills
• Nonverbal ideation
• Recognition and memory of
• Left visual field
• Writing (Left-handed)
34. Acquisition vs. Learning
“The result of language acquisition … is subconscious. We are
generally not consciously aware of the rules of the languages we
have acquired. Instead, we have a ‘feel’ for the correctness.
Grammatical sentences ‘sound’ right, or ‘feel’ right, and errors
feel wrong, even if we do not consciously know what rule was
(Krashen, 1982, p. 10)
“We will use the term ‘learning’ from now on to refer to
conscious knowledge of a second language, knowing the rules,
being aware of them, and being able to talk about them. In
nontechnical terms, learning is ‘knowing about’ a language,
known to most people as ‘grammar’ or ‘rules’. Some synonyms
include formal knowledge of a language or explicit meaning”.
(Krashen, 1982, p. 10)
35. How do we acquire language?
• Stephen Krashen is an American linguist who studied how people
acquire and learn language, he believes that language is acquired
through comprehensible input in a low anxiety environment.
• Input is the information that students receive from others and the
teacher. And must be “comprehensible, developmentally
appropriate, redundant, and accurate” (Kagan, 1995). So, students
must be able to understand the basic message of the information
they are receiving.
• “It is especially critical for them to receive comprehensible input
from their teachers and classmates” (Haynes, 2005).
• The input must be received from many different sources for the
information to move from “short-term comprehension to long-term
acquisition” (Kagan, 1995). Also, the messages must be
“slightly above their current English level” (Haynes, 2005).
36. How do we acquire language?
• Intake is the particular amount of input that students process
to build up internal knowledge.
• Output is the act of producing language (speaking or
• Comprehension is the result of language acquisition.
• The best way for a second language learner to acquire a
new language is through receiving lots of input and
having the opportunity to produce a lot of output. The
best way for a student to have ample opportunities for
input and output is through interaction.
Teacher talking time
Is the time that
talking in class.
Teachers have to
regulate their TTT,
reduce the amount
of TTT as much as
possible, to allow
students to speak
and learn from
-Interaction with L2 speakers
-More grammatical mistakes
-Acquisition speed depends on formal
-Higher motivation level due to social and
-Not native-like proficiency
-Teacher, methodology, materials,
Instructional method must be matched to
individuals learners’ needs.
Diessel, H. (n.d.). Stephen Krashen Acquisition vs. learning. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from
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Harlow: Pearson Longman.
Harmer, J. (2001). Chapter 3: Describing Learners. In The practice of English language
teaching (3rd ed., pp. 37-49). Essex, England: Longman
Haynes, J. (2005). Comprehensible Input and Output. Retrieved October 18, 2014 from
Factors Affecting SLA success. (2014). 1-25. Retrieved from
Horwitz, E. (2008). What do language teachers think about? In Becoming a language teacher:
A practical guide to second language learning and teaching (2nd ed., pp. 1-24). Boston:
Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.
Kagan, S. (1995).We Can Talk: Cooperative Learning in the Elementary ESL Classroom. Retrieved October 18,
2014 from CAL
Oxford, R. (2003). Language Learning Styles and Strategies: And overview. 1-25. Retrieved October 17, 2014,
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What Type of Learner Are You? (2012, July 2). Retrieved October 15, 2014, from