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Research evidence on deprived children not exposed to language in early childhood show that language learning if far less efficient after the first 4 to 5 years of life. Children often display the two functions of egocentric speech, thinking out loud. According to Piaget 1959, the child and adult language is different. Vygotsky 1962, mentions language and cognition to be independent functions in the child, which can be combined with experience i. e. thought and language can join together after 2 years of age. Thereafter, language has two functions; internal thought, and external communication.

Research on language acquisition shows that as a child we have full use of a language at the age of 5 – the speed by which children acquire language is much greater in comparison to learning a new language as an adult. Furthermore, grammatical correction is rare in adults. Since in childhood, much information is relatively new, the notion of enactive, iconic and symbolic stages of learning may be applicable much of the time whereas in adults Bruner’s theory may be applicable when learning unfamiliar material.

According to Knowles, Adults use experience as a key learning resource, they must feel motivated, self-directed and problem-centered and need to see the practical usefulness of learning. According to Rogers, in order to learn the adult must be involved which gives meaning though problem-solving. Subject-matter must be relevant. Self-initiated learning is most lasting. . In my experience the real-life significance of what is being learned is related to my motivation to learn. For example, the real-life significance of this course to me is the prospect of teaching, which increases my determination to learn.

If the subject matter is not relevant then it loses some of its significance and I may find it harder to make the connection between motivation and learning. I feel that my learning processes are similar to those processes described by Kolb. I feel that as a child I initially observed, as an adult am more able to tie that in with reflection. Through various observations I am able to generalise and arrive at concepts and rules for certain things. After establishing these in a flexible manner I am able to experiment with them until I feel ready to integrate them into my personal learning experiences.

Thus, over time I am able to build a “library of personal learning experiences” which will make a change in my behaviour pattern once I put them into practice in daily life. This is in line with Kolb’s learning cycle. Increased contact with others increases observation. Experiences being a sum of observations from any of the senses. Family, cultural and environmental factors are also influential factors on adult learning. My learning was affected by lack of money, when I am without a goal, lack of appraisal and support from my parents during my studies, which could have inhibited my learning process.

As a child learns to be more accepting and learning is directed more by outside influences and generalise much more, with increased social interaction in adulthood. As a child my main source of learning was from my parents since they had the greatest input to the knowledge available to me. As I was growing, my contact with the outside world increased through school, outside activities and I drew on these sources to extend my knowledge and learning from them. As a child you don’t have the freedom of choice that you would as an adult, therefore learning is more restricted in that particular way.

In my personal experience, I find my preferred learning style to be through visual experience. However, my learning also has a high emotive/affective aspect to it. In some situations I prefer to draw on verbal experience, for example learning languages. In hearing a story I feel I am better able to grasp it if I have some visual content to it, but having said that, it the story is discontinuous I find the verbal content to better stimulate my ability to learn from it and remember it.

Therefore, I learn from all types of learning styles, different styles being more appropriate in different situations. Motivation has certainly helped me in improving my learning. I have found different people to learn in different ways by using differing strategies. This I have seen within my own peer growth, classmates, family and friends. Some people are more versatile in their learning approaches and are therefore seen to be more capable. This ties in with Garners theory on multiple intelligences, since some capable learners seem to be able to learn well using many of the strategies mentioned.

My life as an adult has been a learning experience. I have found that with determination and will, I have been able to learn many skills that will last a lifetime. University has been a continuation of my studies and a great learning opportunity. It is a learning environment and therefore encourages me to use my present skills and build on them to learn new ones. It stimulates me to stretch myself intellectually, to reflect and evaluate, to pursue activity, and increases my motivation.

These are all factors that aid the learning process as mentioned in the theory. I have learnt social skills, study skills, time management, the ability to critically analyse, stress management, taking on responsibilities and teamwork skills which I will need for my working life. Learning is improved when I want to learn, am aware of it’s importance, believe in the real-life significance of what is to be learnt, feel supportive, feel good, am able to conduct it in several ways, do, practice, feedback, praised.

Learning can occur in any environment and is affected by various environmental factors. In my opinion, learning abilities can always be improved. Learning always requires some level of motivation. . Learning is improved when I want to learn, am aware of it’s importance, believe in the real-life significance of what is to be learnt, feel supportive, feel good, am able to conduct it in several ways, I am doing rather than just observing, with practice, feedback and appraisal.

Learning theory as developed by Piaget, Vygotsky, Kolb and Bruner seem to be consistent with my particular experiences as a dynamic learning individual. I feel that learning is continuous with life and is always an ongoing process. To better those learning abilities is in my opinion an improvement what one gains from life and is progress in itself from childhood to adulthood.

Bibliography

Feldman, R.S (1994) Essentials of understanding psychology. 2nd Ed. McGraw Hill, International.

Hayes, N. (1998) Foundation of Psychology. 2nd Ed. Thomas Nelson, Walton-on-Thames.

Kolb, D.A (1984) Experimental Learning. Prentice Hall, New York.

Zimbardo, P.G. and Weber, A.L. (1997) Psychology. 2nd Ed. Longman, USA.

Zimbardo et al (1993) Psychology – a European text. Harper Collins, USA.

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