Date of Award

Spring 5-2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Honors College Theses



First Advisor

Dr. Otis Phillip Elliott, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce W. O'Rourke

Third Advisor

Dr. Beverly Wade


here is this widespread belief that older adults cannot successfully learn foreign languages as well as younger adults or children. Consequently, older adults usually buy into this belief and create doubts about their foreign language learning ability. However, contrary to popular stereotypes, many studies have shown that older adults can be good foreign language learners. Yes, older adults face many difficulties in the classroom but so do younger adults and children. The manner in which lessons are taught is extremely significant in the foreign language learning process. When children are taught foreign languages, they are often required to communicate verbally, and manipulatives such as games, music, and computers are frequently used to enhance their language learning. However, when adults are taught foreign languages, or any subject for that matter, lectures, paper and pencil activities, and a minimal number of teacher-student discussions (or verbal communication activities in the target language for foreign language classes) continually serve as the primary sources of learning. Current research has found that older adult learners have a great number of skills that can be effectively utilized in the classroom to enhance foreign language learning. "Teacher of adult learners are often intrigued by their students' striking abilities in a number of skills and arts, and often wonder how this potential can be used to enhance [foreign language] learning (Harvard, p.l). In 1983 , Howard Gardner created the Multiple Intelligence Theory, which was then and presently still is applied to children V and young adults. However, new research is utilizing the theory to highlight adult learning strengths and abilities. Intelligence, as defined by Gardner's theory, " is the ability to solve problems or create products that are valued in one or more cultural or community settings" (Harvard, p. 1) The Multiple Intelligence Theory argues that all humans have multiple intelligences that vary in degree and type. There are currently eight forms of intelligence: naturalist, musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, logical-mathematical, and intrapersonal. The purpose of this research is to determine and compare the foreign language learning styles of older and younger adults so that hopefully in the near future professors can begin to incorporate new techniques to reach all types of intelligences. The method of analysis used for this research was represented in the form of a survey. The survey was used to discover learning style preferences of young and older foreign language adult learners.