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Senior Language

Senior Language

The qualification of language teachers for senior citizens is of crucial importance for the quality of further education in the context of lifelong learning.

Language course teaching methods for senior citizens

Due to different living conditions an increasing number of people live longer nowadays. Currently 21 % of the EU population are older than 60 years. Gerontological research has identified education as one of the most important factors of stabilising health. Furthermore learning promotes the understanding among the generations and eases the social generation gap.
But: in language courses senior citizens are under-represented (and generally in further training) and they step out earlier.

The participating institutions of this project have found out that the specific needs of language teaching to Senior Citizens has not been sufficiently taken into account by language teachers and trainers. Their teaching methods often disregard the principles and characteristics of senior citizen language acquisition and seem to neglect senior learners´ needs and motivation. There is a motivation to learn a language, so why do only few senior citizens ever set foot in a language classroom? The answer is quite simple: the rest fears to learn in “normal” courses. What they want is to learn alongside their contemporaries, who are also absolute beginners as some of them never had the chance to learn a language in school. Almost all younger people nowadays have some knowledge in a foreign language, they are quick to grasp new facts and become impatient with an elderly lady who needs time to even find the correct page.

Grammar creates fear in most senior citizens. They usually have no background in this area and paint themselves a terrifying picture of what it must be like. They prefer a course with as little grammar as possible.
Summa summarum: Working as a language teacher for senior citizens demands on the teacher´s didactical, methodical and social skills. The planned training course is meant to pass over and to enforce knowledge and skills which are needed for successful teaching. The qualification of language teacher for senior citizens is of crucial importance for the quality of further education in the context of lifelong learning.


Volkshochschule im Landkreis Cham e.V. (Germany)
Universität Regensburg, Institut für Pädagogik (Germany)
BEST Institut für berufsbezogene Weiterbildung und Personaltraining GmbH (Austria)
Citta della Scienza S.c.p.a. (Italy)
KTP Spolecnost pro kvalifikaci na trhu prace (Czech Republic)
IRFA SUD (France)
Folkuniversitetet (Sweden)


October 2006 – September 2008

Contact: Martin Persson or Donatella Prete

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