Is It Possible To Solve Adult Language Learners’ Drop Out Problems With E-Courses?

Research results obtained from the survey covering 26 language schools who provide Estonian language courses for new immigrants in Estonia (conducted by Mart Rannut and Ulle Rannut in 2009) revealed that the drop-out rate reaches up to 30 percent of the participants. Main drop-out reasons (42%) affecting attendance concerned changes in employment: losing or finding a job, change of workplace or of work shifts, extensive business travel, etc. 8 percent of drop-out cases were caused by moving to another place and 5% due to family reasons.

In the case of free language courses financial reasons for drop-out vanish, however, factors connected to low learning motivation become much more important (17% of drop-out cases), as participants regard the course requirements too high, the course too intensive and difficult. Ironically, language school managers were on the opinion that the drop-out might be even more extensive in this case, reaching a quarter from the total number of starters. Though the reasons (employment, family, etc.) for missing classes were allegedly the same for all courses, however, the motivation in catching up one’s co-learners among those attending free course was much lower than among those who had paid for it, resulting in drop-out.

Our experience from previous adaptation courses has revealed that new immigrants are in difficulty in finding suitable language courses that would correspond to their needs. Most of the surveyed participants had unsuccessfully participated in some language course already and the reasons listed for drop-out were that the vocabulary taught in these courses did not correspond their needs, the course was too intensive or that the language of instruction was (unexpectedly) Russian, the language that they did not know.

Although the adaptation program for new immigrants in Estonia has been developed by the author of the current article and has been implemented since 2009, it has not solved the problem here. The main reason is that adaptation courses in Estonia are project-based, thus the course provider is every time different, the number of participants is usually limited and restricted to certain areas and target groups, these courses are offered only once a year and the language of instruction is mainly Russian. These courses are also very intensive (ca 10 hours of classes a week) which leads to a high drop-out rate.

One of the English-speaking new immigrants shared his experience after participating in one of these Estonian language courses: “I found myself alone there with about fifteen Russian speakers, whom I doubt will ever learn Estonian, no matter how many courses they attend. At that time, all of the other English speakers from our integration program who were placed with me in the class had already fallen away. So, with only me left over, the medium of instruction immediately changed to Russian. The classroom situation for me is a waste of time having to listen to other people making mistakes. Also, as I work long hours and at different times on shifts, this makes attending classes impossible.”

This was the reason why ImmiSoft Ltd together with the Integration Research Institute decided to develop a special Estonian language e-course and several other e-learning materials that would better cater to the needs of adult English-speaking newcomers in Estonia, eliminating the common drop-out reasons.

E-courses enable to overcome constraints limiting newcomers’ adaptation and integration in Estonia, make adaptation and language learning programs permanent and financially accessible. As e-courses are available in Internet, participants can visit each lesson whenever it is suitable for them and as many times as they need, thus, they cannot miss the class any more. They bring learning activities and personal tutoring to all participants 24/7 wherever they are, which eliminates most of the drop out reasons. Learners can decide what topics to choose and when is the best time to learn for them which should increase motivation. The other beneficial aspect is the affordable price as it makes the whole language learning process much cheaper for learners.

Until now there is no sufficient data on the overall efficiency of the e-courses, however, several drop-out causes may be overcome through this approach.

Adult Day Care Explained – What it Is, What to Expect & How to Pay For It

What It Is

Like adult day care, adult  health care provides a safe, caring setting for adults who require supervision or care during the day. Adult health programs are designed for individuals who require a more skilled level of care. These programs offer medical services, like rehabilitation, therapy, nursing care and special nutrition. The programs are structured and designed, often through the development of a personal care plan, to cover the daily individual needs of each participant. Participants of adult  care require some health care, unlike adult day care participants.

What to Expect

Adult  care is based primarily around participants’ health care needs. Most programs offer meals and some provide transportation. The activities and programming reflect the diverse needs of participants and their levels of functioning. Common activities include current events classes, arts and crafts, music, mind-stimulating games, and exercise, as appropriate to each individual.

Adult  care centers provide many health and social services for a set daily fee. Many centers have sliding scales. Medicare, Medigap and Managed Care do not cover adult day health care.

Read a detailed description of all types of reimbursements.

Medicaid

What It Covers

Medicaid usually covers all adult day health services.

Conditions and Limitations

In some instances, Medicaid approves coverage for fewer days per week than an individual requires. If, for example, Medicaid approves only three days per week, but the individual requires five days, then the individual is financially responsible for the two additional days of attendance. Medicaid approves the number of days based on a doctor’s recommendation.

LTCI

What It Covers

Homecare Only and Comprehensive policies pay benefits in an adult day health care facility, but the amount of coverage depends on the individual policy. For information on how to determine what kind of LTCI policy suits your needs, visit our Financing Long Term Care Expert Column.

Veterans Benefits

What It Covers

Veterans Benefits cover adult day health care services.

* Conditions and Limitations Veteran must meet eligibility criteria for VA benefits, and

* Demonstrate need for this type of care

Public Speaking – Apply Adult Learning Principles For More Effective Training

Did you know that adults have special needs as learners?

When we were kids, we went to school, and we sat through class every day, and our teachers taught everyone pretty much the same way. It didn’t really matter if you were a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner. The teacher pretty much did whatever s/he felt most comfortable doing. Times have changed, and teachers are more aware of learning styles now, and other issues that affect children’s learning.

But the principles of adult learning are still pretty new to most people. If you’re a speaker, and you’re doing any kind of education or training with the groups you’re speaking to, this applies to you.

First, a little history. Malcolm Knowles is considered the “father of adult learning”, although the topic had been discussed and researched over a century earlier.

Knowles’ assumptions were that adults:

1) move from dependency to self-directedness;
2) draw upon their reservoir of experience for learning;
3) are ready to learn when they assume new roles; and
4) want to solve problems and apply new knowledge immediately.

In his book, “The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy,” Knowles opposes the view that adults are unable to learn: “…the rapidly accelerating pace of change in our society has proved this doctrine to be no longer valued. Facts learned in youth have become insufficient and in many instances actually untrue; and skills learned in youth have become outmoded by new technologies.”

The term “andragogy” has come to mean self-directed learning for people of all ages, as opposed to the term “pedagogy” which defines teacher-directed learning. In practical terms, it means that when educating or training adults, process comes before content.

Knowles may not have invented these terms or concepts, but he was the first to put them together into an organized theory. Additional theories of adult learning have been developed since Knowles’ time, as well. Here is an overview of adult learning principles that will greatly improve your understanding of how and why adults learn. This will allow you to tailor your presentations and training more effectively to the groups you serve.

1. Adults are autonomous and self-directed

Adults want to decide for themselves what, when, how and why to learn. Speakers/instructors should allow adults to direct some of their own learning. Here are some ways to facilitate this:

* Ask your participants what they already know about your topic and what they’re interested in learning. Find out what their goals are for being there.
* Share your agenda and ask for input. This might lead to switching around the order of your workshop to better serve the group’s needs. You might find you spend more time on certain subjects than you had planned, and less on others. Be flexible.
* Act as a facilitator, guiding the group and encouraging them to reach their own conclusions, rather than force-feeding information in a lecture format. Allow them to be responsible for their own learning.
* Do your research on the group and organizational needs beforehand, so you can provide a combination of information that meets their perceived needs and their actual needs.

2. Adults have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that informs their learning

Adult learners can be a valuable resource for you as an instructor/speaker. It’s also important for them to connect learning to those previous life experiences. Here’s how to make the most of your audience’s experience and knowledge.

* Don’t assume that your participants are “blank slates” and know nothing about your topic. Nothing is more insulting than a speaker who launches into a lecture without first finding out the needs and knowledge level of the audience. Do your research and ask first to find out what they already know.
* When appropriate, ask your audience to share their experiences, and create activities that call on them to use their experiences, for example, in small group discussions.
* Prepare activities that involve choice, so the learning process can better fit the individual levels of your participants.

3. Adults need relevancy in learning

It’s important to adults that they are learning something relevant and applicable to real life, whether it’s work-related or personal. Here’s how to make learning relevant to your audience.

* Identify learning objectives and ask participants to share their goals.
* Discuss and ask for sharing of real-world applications of your topic.
* Avoid giving a workshop or presentation that’s too theoretical.

In the book “Teacher”, Sylvia Ashton-Warner discusses relevancy in her work as a teacher with Maori children. She recalls trying to teach them to read out of European textbooks with images and language that mean nothing to them. When she starts working within their own language, culture and experiences to teach them reading, they blossom. Relevancy is one of the major keys to learning for people of all ages.

4. Adults are motivated to learn by both external and internal factors

When we were kids, many of us were not motivated to learn by anything other than our parents’ and teachers’ rewards and punishments.

As adults, we have many reasons for pursuing learning:

* it’s a requirement of a job
* we want to make new friends and connections
* for professional development and to advance our careers
* to relieve boredom
* because we’re interested in a particular topic and want to learn for fun
* to create a better environment for our children and families

. . . and the list goes on.

As an instructor/speaker, it’s important to understand the many reasons why your attendees are in your seminar. They may not be there by choice, for example. Ask them why they’ve come and what they hope to gain from the experience.

As it is important to understand what motivates your participants to learn, it’s also important to understand what might be barriers to their learning:

* worry about finances
* time constraints
* childcare issues
* relationship issues (one partner feels threatened by advancement of the other)
* lack of confidence in ability to learn (some people grew to believe they were not good in school, and they carry that with them forever)
* insecurity about intelligence
* concern about practicality and relevance

. . . and the list goes on!

Understanding the motivations and barriers your participants face can help you as an instructor pinpoint how best to serve them, by increasing their motivation for learning.

5. Adult learners have sensitive egos

Many of us, over the course of a lifetime, have developed a fear of appearing stupid or incompetent. As children, we were encouraged to explore, ask questions and learn about the world, but somewhere along the way, that was taken away from us. Many adults have mixed feelings about teachers, school, and structured learning.

Some people go to great lengths to hide their inability to read, for example, or their lack of understanding of the duties of their job.

An instructor/speaker must be aware of these issues and build trust by treating learners respectfully, sensitively, and without judgment.

* Allow participants to build confidence by practicing what is learned in small groups before facing the large group
* Use positive reinforcement to encourage participants
* If sensitive issues are to be discussed, create a safe space by enforcing confidentiality and allowing participants to “pass” if there’s something they’re not comfortable talking about
* Provide activities that are low-risk before moving on to activities featuring higher risk or greater trust
* Acknowledge participants’ previous life experience and knowledge and allow them to voice opinions and share in class leadership

A speaker who believes she/he knows more than anyone else in the room is asking for trouble, and creating an environment that will discourage learning.

6. Adults are practical and problem-oriented, and want to apply what they’ve learned

Probably the most important result for adult learners is to be able to apply their learning to their work or personal life – immediately. Help facilitate this by doing the following:

* Use examples to help them see the connection between classroom theories and practical application
* Use problem-solving activities as part of learning
* Create action items or task lists together with participants
* Help learners transfer learning to daily practice by offering follow-up coaching or mentoring
* Create an experiential learning environment that follows an experiential learning cycle

This has been just a brief overview of adult learning principles. I hope you’ve found some of the tips in these articles to be helpful.

At its most basic level, adult learning tends to be self-directed and based on the person’s individual needs and life experiences. Follow these tips when working with adults, and you will be on your way to creating a truly effective learning experience.