Language pedagogies and late-life language learning proficiency

Mara Van Der Ploeg*, Merel Keijzer, Wander Lowie

*Corresponding author for this work

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Late-life language learning has gained considerable attention in recent years. Strikingly, additional language (AL) proficiency development is underinvestigated, despite it potentially being one of the main drivers for older adults to learn an AL. Our study investigates whether Dutch older adults learning English for three months significantly improve their AL skills, and if explicit or implicit language instruction is more beneficial. Sixteen learners participated in online weekly group lessons, five days of 60-min homework, and pre-post-retention tests. Half were randomly assigned to the mostly explicit condition and half to the mostly implicit condition. Data includes language proficiency measures and 201 dense-data spoken homework samples. Results show improvements in several areas for both conditions. For structural errors in homework, we found implicitly taught participants to make significantly more mistakes. Our exploratory data show that older adults significantly develop AL proficiency after a short language training, and, as we only found differences between conditions on one construct, that teaching pedagogies do not play a substantial role.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11-Aug-2023


  • implicit explicit grammar instruction
  • language proficiency
  • language teaching pedagogies
  • late-life language learning
  • older adults
  • SLA


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