Listening in Older Second Language Learners: The Teachers’ Perspective

  • Agata Słowik Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław
Keywords: SLA, top-down and bottom-up listening, geragogy, older adults, teachers’ perspective


There are various theories, strategies and techniques regarding teaching different language skills. At the same time, as practice shows listening remains the most challenging skill for the educators to teach effectively and for the learners to master. Moreover, both the learners and their teachers have their own, not infrequently rather disparate, subjective theories, as well as learning and teaching preferences. Older adult learners are a peculiar case as they are a very diverse group, aware of their needs and cognitive abilities. At the same time, their teachers are unfortunately often unaware of these needs and do not adapt the materials to suit their students. The aim of this paper is, thus, to present the opinions of the teachers of older adult students and to provide basis for future research. 

Author Biography

Agata Słowik, Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław

Agata Słowik is a doctoral student in the Institute of English Studies at the University of Wrocław, Poland. She specializes in teaching and assessment techniques in teaching English to older adult learners. Her academic interests include L2 teaching and learning, SLA studies, the differences in teaching younger and older adult students, the use of students’ L1 in the language classroom, intercultural competence and foreign language teacher training.


Brown, G. (1990). Listening to spoken English. Harlow: Longman.

Butler, R.N. (2006). Ageism. In: J.E. Birren (Ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology: Age, aging and the aged (2nd Ed.) (pp. 41–42). Oxford, UK: Elservier.

Coupland, N., Coupland, J., Giles, H. &Henwood, K. (1988). “Accommodating the elderly: invoking and extending a theory.” Language in Society, 17(1), 1-41.

Cox, J. (2013). “Older adult learners and SLA: Age in a new light.” In: S. Cristina & L. Beatriz (Eds.) AAUSC Vol. Issues in Language Program Direction.

Christoffersen, T. (1974). “Gerontology: towards a general theory and a research strategy.” ActaSociologica, 17(4), 393-407.

Field, J. (2008). Listening in the Language Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Findsen, B., & Formosa, M. (2011). Lifelong learning in later life: a handbook on older adult learning. Rotterdam: Sense Publ.

Gary, J. O., and N. Gary. (1981). “Comprehension-based Language Instruction: From Theory to Practice." Annals New York academy of sciences, pp. 332-352.

Grundy, P. (2008). Beginners. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Homstad, A. (1987). “Neurolinguistic and Psycholinguistic Research on Learning Modes of Older Language Learners: Classroom Implications.” Hispania, 70.2, pp. 374-80.

Jaroszewska A. (2013a). Nauczanie języków obcych seniorów w Polsce. [Teaching foreign language to older adults in Poland]. Kraków: Impuls.

Jaroszewska A. (2013b). “Gdzie, jak i dlaczego polscy seniorzy uczą się języków obcych?” [Where and how Polish older adults learn forein languages?]. JOWS 4, pp. 89-94.

Mackey A., Sachs R. (2012). “Older learners in SLA research: A first look at working memory, feedback, and L2 development.” Language Learning,62(3), pp. 704-740.

Mautner, G. (2007). “Mining large corpora for social information: the case of elderly.” Language in Society, 36(1), pp. 51-72.

McDaniel, M. A., Einstein, G. O., & Jacoby, L. L. (2008). New considerations in aging and memory: The glass may be half full. In: F. I. M. Craik & T. A. Salthouse (Eds.), Handbook of cognition and aging (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press, pp. 251-310.

Michońska-Stadnik, A. (2013). Teoretyczne i praktyczne podstawy weryfikacji wybranych teorii subiektywnych w kształceniu nauczycieli języków obcych. [Theoretical and practical basis of verifying subjective theories in foreign language teacher training.] Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego.

Middle age. (2016) In Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus online. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Middle age. (2016) In Collins English Dictionary online. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publ. Ltd. Retrieved from

Middle age. (2016) In Oxford English Dictionary online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Middle age. (2016) In Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, Inc. Retrieved from

Ostwald, S. K., and H. Y. Williams. (1985). “Optimizing Learning in the Elderly: A Model.” Lifelong Learning 9, pp. 10-27.

Park, D. C. (2000). The basic mechanisms accounting for age-related decline in cognitive function. In: D. C. Park & N. Schwarz (Eds.)., Cognitive Aging: A primer. Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press, pp. 3-21.

Pawley, A. &Syder, F. H. (1983) ‘Two puzzles for linguistic theory’. In J. C. Richards & R. W. Schmidt (eds.), Language and Communication. London: Longman, pp. 191–226.

Pulvermüller, F. and Schumann, J. (1994) Neurobiological mechanisms of language acquisition. Language Learning 44, pp. 681–734.

Postovsky, V. (1974). “The Effects of Delay in Oral Practice at the Beginning of Second Language Learning.” Modern Language Journal 58, pp. 229-239.

Ridgway, T. (2000). Listening strategies – I beg your pardon? ELT Journal 54 (2), pp. 179-185.

Schegloff, E. (2007). Sequence Organisation in interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Schleppegrell, M. (1987). “The Older Language Learner.” Retrieved on 05.11.2016, from

Singleton, D. & Ryan, L. (2004). Language acquisition: The Age factor (2nd ed.) Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Słowik. A. (2016). “Adult Learners and the Use of L1 in the Foreign Language Classroom.” Anglica Wratislaviensia 2016 (54).

Underhill, A. 2005. Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation. Oxford: Macmillan.

Vandergrift, L. (2010). Researching Listening. In Paltridge, B. & Phakiti, A. (Eds.) (2010). Continuum companion to research methods in applied linguistics. London: Continuum, pp. 160-173.

Vandergrift, L. & ChuenMeng Goh, C. (2012). Teaching and Learning Second Language Listening: Metacognition in Action. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Wilson, JJ. (2008). How to Teach Listening. Edinburgh: Pearson Education Ltd.

Winitz, H. (1981). The comprehension approach to foreign language instruction. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Wolf, M. A. &Brady E. M. (2010). “Adult and continuing education for an aging society.” In: Kasworm, C. E., Rose, A. D., Ross-Gordon, J. M., & American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (Eds.). Handbook of adult and continuing education (2010 ed). Los Angeles: SAGE, pp. 369-379.

How to Cite
Słowik, A. (2017). Listening in Older Second Language Learners: The Teachers’ Perspective. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 8(1), 148-163.