In teaching seniors it is important to draw attention to a few issues that will contribute to the optimization of the teaching process:
Highlight areas of interest
Seniors are people who very clearly specify their expectations and this can be a real help in teaching provided that the teacher deigns to hear what they have to say. This is why it is good to start the lessons with the analysis of expectations and needs, even in the form of an open discussion. Clear and precise course rules will prevent possible misunderstandings and demotivation of course participants.
Repetition is the mother of knowledge
Human memory is failing and with age this phenomenon worsens and this is why it must be taken into account in the learning of foreign languages which itself can constitute training that promotes memorization. Repetition is an essential means of learning at every stage of development, yet among older people it fulfills a particularly prominent role. It is worth planning the activities so that, first, new material is divided, second, repeatedly returning to previously discussed issues.
Habit is second nature
Seniors, in general, have behind them experience in learning foreign languages. Many of them have well-defined experiences and habits. It turns out that besides the definite order of activities it is also very important to resort to previously known methods. A grammatico-translator method is particularly important, which consists of a reading of the text accompanied by a faithful translation as well as the realization of lexical and grammatical exercises indicated. As the seniors indicated in the review that was conducted, what makes it easier for them to learn is to insert lexicons with new, more complicated words, right next to the text.
It is also important to explain in detail all the grammatical difficulties in a clear way and to highlight them on different types of automatic exercises which sometimes can be monotonous.
In traditional classes, it is the teacher who possesses the knowledge transmitted to the student. During activities with seniors, this assumption only represents part of the reality because often it is precisely the elderly who have enormous knowledge on several subjects that they want to share. It is preferable to take this into account in the plans and programs of activities by proposing defined exercises which will allow the sharing of experiences and knowledge on different subjects.
Although seniors like to have clarity about activity plans and discussion questions, they also need space to practice the defined questions independently. As a result, they voluntarily do homework or prepare their questions on their own.
A few indications listed and described in the text above represent barely a drop in the sea of needs with regard to the teaching of foreign languages to the elderly. In the case of the group in question, it is undoubtedly necessary to take into account the enormous heterogeneity and the individualism which a priori do not facilitate the work of the teachers. Work with seniors is a great challenge because it requires above all more awareness that the methods that work with young people do not bring the expected effects in older people.
This theme always raises many doubts and questions, which results from its new character. Nevertheless, the growing popularity of the group linked to the number of seniors who engage in this educational process is the best motivation for scientists, didactics, pedagogues who aim to thoroughly study this subject.