Adult Learners and Foreign Language Acquisition: A Behaviorist Analysis

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Adults often are hesitant about learning new things, especially in the case of learning a new language. Undertaking learning a new language is very intimate because of the embarrassment associated with the likelihood of misspeaking. It is hard for us as adults to open ourselves up to such vulnerability. Because of this, it is necessary for us to find ways that make learning a foreign language easier. This paper examines the author’s experience while attending a four-week complete immersion language study course in Mexico. It can be said that learning a foreign language cannot be accomplished solely by memorizing scores of words and phrases and piecing them together at random. Learning a second language must involve certain practices and behaviors that reinforce and complement this rote memorization. This behaviorist analysis provides for adults a means of understanding how to more easily and efficiently learn a foreign language. The three basic assumptions of the behaviorist orientation to adult learning as outlined by Merriam and Caffarella (1999) will serve as the framework for the analysis.


Keywords: Adult Learning, Foreign Language
Stream: Adult, Vocational, Tertiary and Professional Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , Adult Learners and Foreign Language Acquisition


Dr. Thomas D. Cox

Instructor, University College, University of Memphis
Memphis, TN, USA

Thomas D. Cox earned an Ed.D. in Adult Education from the University of Memphis and teaches in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program there.
His interests include adult learning, leadership, and language. He has traveled extensively throught Central and South America.
He has over 10 years of experience teaching and training adults in the areas of human resource development (HRD),community agencies, and higher education.

Ref: L08P0213