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Abstract

This study investigates motivational factors and language learning strategies involved in the process of learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in the elderly. This needs' analysis report is part of the implementation of ERASMUS+ project nr 2021-1-PL01-KA220-ADU-000033465.
This study investigates motivational factors and language learning strategies involved in the
process of learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in the elderly. This needs’ analysis
report is part of the implementation of ERASMUS+ project nr 2021-1-PL01-KA220-ADU-
000033465.
ELDERS LEARNING ENGLISH FOR EUROPE
THE TURKISH CASE
2
ELDERS
LEARNING
ENGLISH FOR
EUROPE
THE TURKISH CASE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ......................................................................... 5
SOCIAL INCLUSION OF ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS .................... 6
TRAVEL AND THE ELDERLY .................................................... 7
LEARNING AND THE ELDERLY ................................................ 8
ELDERS AND LEARNING ENGLISH ........................................ 10
METHODS ................................................................................ 11
FINDINGS ................................................................................. 11
CONCLUSION .......................................................................... 21
REFERENCES.......................................................................... 23
AUTHORS
Duygu ISPINAR AKCAYOGLU
Yeliz NUR AKARCAY
Luis OCHOA SIGUENCIA
Renata OCHOA-DĄDERSKA
http://elene.inbie.pl
elene@inbie.pl
3
__________________________________________________________________________
Project information
Project: Erasmus+
Project title: Elders learning English for Europe
Acronym: ELENE
Project No.: 2021-1-PL01-KA220-ADU-000033465
Project coordinator: Instytut Badan i Innowacji w Edukacji, [INBIE], Poland
Project partners:
The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of
the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any
use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Publishing house
Instytut Badan i Innowacji w Edukacji [INBIE]
Czecha 13 lok.65. 42-244 Częstochowa – Poland
Distribution: http://publisher.inbie.pl e-mail: info@inbie.pl
4
ELDERS LEARNING
ENGLISH FOR EUROPE
The TURKISH Case
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6651774
Częstochowa, 16.06.2022
5
INTRODUCTION
People have begun to live longer, and their active life notions and activities have gone through
changes. Greater life expectancy is an important issue that challenges countries around the
globe. The ageing of populations affects all aspects of human life in social, financial, cultural,
and political domains. One of the important issues of the 21st century is understanding and
providing for ageing.
Currently, one out of every ten people is aged 60 or above. It is estimated that by 2050 one out
of five people will be aged 60 or older. By 2150, one out of every three people is estimated to be
60 and over. With lower birth rates and higher life expectancy, the proportion of the elderly is
already one in four in some developed countries (Erişen, 2010). According to the United Nations
(UN), the 21st century will be the century of the old, which is also referred the “silver tsunami”
(Boulton-Lewis, 2010).
The developing countries are also facing the reality of the ageing issue. Turkey is among the
developing countries category and has a relatively younger population. However, having an
ageing population has been on its agenda in recent years (Erişen, 2010) and the country is
experiencing a new demographic structure. Starting from the year 2020, the proportion of this
group of population is expected to be 20%, with an expected increase in the following years.
Active participation of elderly individuals in social life brings many advantages not only for them
but also for the societies they live in. Various programs and projects around the world have
investigated how and why elderly people should be involved in social life through active living.
This project focuses on the learning of elderly individuals with a specific focus on learning English
for travel purposes and presents findings obtained from the questionnaire administered for
determining their needs on this issue.
6
SOCIAL INCLUSION OF ELDERLY INDIVIDUALS
Social inclusion of elderly individuals in life is of vital importance not only for those individuals
but also for countries. The right of older people to live in dignity, promoting their independence
and participation in social, economic and civic life is indicated by the Council of the European
Union. It is recommended that older individuals should remain active as citizens, workers,
consumers, careers, and volunteers. In this regard, the engagement of elderly individuals in
education and life-long training activities is of great importance for their well-being.
According to the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), there are seven types of
relationships and services as meaningful indicators of the social inclusion/exclusion of elderly
individuals. There are listed as follows:
a) Social relationships: contact with family and friends
b) Cultural and leisure activities: going to the cinema or theatre, etc.
c) Civic activities: voluntary work, voting, membership in interest groups, etc.
d) Basic services: health and social services, shops
e) Neighborhood: safety and friendliness of people in the neighborhood
f) Financial products: bank accounts and pensions
g) Material Goods: Consumer durables, central heating, etc.
Depending on the country where they live as well as the socio-economic and personal conditions
they have, elderly individuals are excluded on one or some of the items mentioned above. Some
disadvantaged groups are reported to face multiple or severe exclusion; namely are excluded
on three or more dimensions. According to a report published in England, 1.2 million people
aged 50 or more face multiple exclusion, with the intensification of the condition for people
beyond the age of 75 (Age concern England 2008).
Social isolation and exclusion have been reported to be associated with many emotional and
physical risk factors such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, mortality, alcoholism and
drug abuse, cognitive decline, dementia, long-term illnesses, etc. Social activity is encouraged
to combat senior isolation, and there are some ways to encourage social activity for elderly
individuals. Designing care plans depending on individuals and their preferences is a good way
of involving elderly people in social life. Some recommendations for involving these age groups
include:
increasing time spent with them,
encouraging family visits,
suggesting joining a club or volunteering, and
encouraging outside activities.
7
TRAVEL AND THE ELDERLY
Integration of this population into society is an important issue. Elderly individuals tend to isolate
themselves from society as they get older; however, they should be helped to have more social
value by experiencing active ageing. When the required conditions are provided, ageing is
reported to demonstrate a relationship with productivity. The WHO adopted the term “active
ageing” in the late 1990s. The term is believed to convey a more inclusive message than “healthy
ageing” and aims to help to recognize the factors affecting how individuals and populations age.
The term refers to being physically and mentally active, engaging in learning, working, and
actively participating in family, and community life. Active ageing is multidimensional, and
education and learning are assumed to be important factors.
Travelling is part of active ageing. Older people's mobility is believed to promote social inclusion
and active participation in life. Studies show that the travel motivations of older adults stimulate
their travel actions, and their travels are reported to contribute to greater life satisfaction. Travel
has the potential to provide older adults with recreational opportunities, maintain social and
physical activities, and satisfy socio-psychological needs. Some of these needs include but are
not limited to rest, relaxation, social interaction, learning, and excitement. By remaining active in
later life, elderly people can maintain social roles and functioning, which can further contribute
to better physical and mental health and life satisfaction. Travel is an important factor that helps
to achieve these. Participation in travel activities can support continued involvement in different
domains of life as well as interactions with other people,
Older adults' travel motivations:
stimulate travel actions and enhance self-esteem and social recognition,
provide escape and relaxation, and
promote learning and discovery.
Through travel, elderly individuals become interested in escaping from daily routines and
improving self-esteem and social recognition. Little details such as preparing travel information
and places to visit before departure, having conversations with others about travel itineraries,
arranging accommodation, and sharing the joy of travel are reported to provide older adults with
opportunities for social participation and interaction with others as well as sense of pleasure and
satisfaction.
8
LEARNING AND THE ELDERLY
Learning is a life-long process, and the benefits of continued learning have been well-
documented through studies conducted worldwide. It is an important component of active
ageing. Moreover, a positive relationship was reported between health and learning (Ross &
Mirowsky, 1999; Hammond, 2002, 2004; Narushima, 2008). There are 12 possible learning
benefits categorized into three forms of capital as follows:
a) human capital: human capital is for skills training or retraining
b) social capital: social capital is for relationships and social networking
c) identity capital: identity capital is for personal development, interests, and other life
pursuits.
Elder individuals who are engaged in lifelong learning are reported to have positive experiences
in several areas such as enjoyment of life, increased confidence, self-satisfaction, and ability to
cope. Particularly with the rapid changes in technology, the need for elderly individuals' learning
has become a must. Elderly individuals who continue learning are believed to keep up with
modern technology and maintain their quality of life by enhancing their self-sufficiency and
coping strategies. Self-sufficiency helps them to deal with health and social relationship-related
challenges. Less mental decline is another very important benefit of learning and active use of
the brain. Neurological research conducted in the last two decades shows that mental activity
performed in old age:
boosts intellectual power,
helps to maintain mental function, and
reverse memory decline (Withnall, 2000; Kotulak, 1997).
Studies also showed that elderly individuals who are stimulated mentally have a little decline in
memory and continue intellectual growth even in their late lives (Wolf, 2009). Although they learn
more slowly and need more practice, elders are reported to have stronger motivation to learn.
They are also reported to want to be engaged with continued learning due to reasons as follows:
exercising the mind,
staying mentally stimulated and active,
attaining certain life goals, and
simply never stopping learning.
Various studies in the literature have investigated what elders want to learn, which indicated a
wide range of topics including health, safety, leisure, transportation, technology, new activities,
9
and leisure interests to keep up-to-date with new technology and make an effort to learn new
things, discover new talents, acquire new skills, and take up new vocations.
In essence, continued learning can help people gain socioeconomic, psychological, and
sociopolitical benefits. These benefits are believed to contribute to the well-being of elderly
individuals. Given the advantages of continued learning, elderly individuals should be provided
with accessible opportunities for elder learning. These kinds of opportunities can be formal,
semiformal, and informal learning provided by organizations established for various purposes.
Preferences of elders also demonstrate differences regarding how and where they want to learn.
Although some of them prefer organized courses and formalized activities, some others prefer
informal learning such as reading, conversation, and watching educational materials. This
diversity in their preferences indicates the need for meeting older learners’ needs as lifelong
learners. Educators and program designers should keep in mind that as they age, people have
differing learning needs and expectations. Their needs for enrolling- and not enrolling- in
programs should be understood well. Elders are reported to be engaged in learning mainly for
two motivation types which include expressive and instrumental motivation.
While expressive motivation refers to personal development and social relations, instrumental
motivation refers to work, career, and skills training. According to a survey, people aged 55 have
the following reasons to be engaged in learning:
meeting people,
filling up time,
learning something new,
making life more meaningful,
developing personal interests and hobbies.
These items indicate that elders are engaged in learning for intrinsic rather than extrinsic
reasons. A study conducted in Turkey investigated the use of Massive Open Online Courses
(MOOC) and found that the number of users who are aged over 65 had more than doubled since
2000. These studies and many others conducted in different parts of the world demonstrate the
need elderly individuals feel for continuing to learn, which calls for the programs that address
these needs.
10
ELDERS AND LEARNING ENGLISH
The role of travel in active ageing and elderly people's well-being is obvious. When travel is
considered, one is not limited to one country merely. Hence, the language issue is considered
to be a factor that needs to be taken into consideration. No matter what country people visit, one
language is the key to communication: English.
With the globalization of the world, English has gone beyond being a particular language of a
country or nation. It is now a multi-national, multi-cultural, and multi-functional language. More
and more people in the world have mastered English, which made the number of people who
use it as a foreign language greater than the number of people who use it as their first language.
As a result, English is the language of the whole world. Therefore, learning a foreign language
should be one of the goals of traveling elder people.
Most studies focus on how children, adolescents, and young adults learn languages. While the
literature covers a substantial number of studies on the learning, foreign language learning
needs, characteristics, and strategies of individuals from younger age groups, despite its
importance, elderly individuals’ learning English has not been investigated much in the literature.
The influences of bilingualism have been demonstrated in the literature. Learning a foreign
language is reported to enable cognitive decline or delay the onset of dementia (Bak, Nissan,
Allerhand, & Deary, 4 2014). Thus, there is a need to raise awareness of EFL teachers in
creating special EFL programs for Senior Citizens, a population that inevitably keeps growing.
Learning a second language has been shown to enable remarkable health improvement when
they learn a second language at the age of 70 years and ahead (Conde, 2020).
There are some advantages and challenges of teaching and learning English in the population
of elderly individuals. From the teachers’ side, some advantages can be listed as follows:
Elderly individuals have rich life experiences that offer different ideas and opinions
regarding a wide range of areas. The richness of this experience may put the teacher in
the learner position.
Elderly individuals are not motivated to be engaged in learning to obtain a certificate or
qualification. This factor makes teaching more motivational for the teacher.
The main purpose of elderly individuals in the foreign language process could be wanting
to socialize, enjoying the process, or becoming active again. These characteristics enable
a great advantage for the teachers (Findsen & Formosa, 2011).
Elderly individuals challenge teachers because they need a more dynamic methodology
with life experiences they have had.
11
Advantages for the learners can be listed as follows:
elderly learners’ quality of life increases with the learning experience
with the learning experience they have, elderly individuals could develop critical thinking
skills, including reflecting and acting on social problems.
they could participate in social movements and push for wider cultural and political
transformations.
social integration gained through the language learning process promotes life satisfaction,
alleviates the sense of loneliness, and contributes to physical and mental health.
participating in a language classroom could help elderly individuals to create good
friendships and keep them distracted.
Programs designed for elderly individuals' learning a foreign language should consider these
factors.
METHODS
Elderly individuals living in Turkey were administered a questionnaire to explore their views and
ideas about learning English as a foreign language for travel purposes. The questions asked
aimed to explore the main reasons and motivations for traveling as well as learning English as
a foreign language. A total of 51 Individuals responded to the questionnaire.
FINDINGS
This section presents the questionnaire results.
12
As the figures above demonstrate, 51% of the participants were aged 61 to 70 years old and
31,4% were aged 51 to 60 years old. While 60,8% were females, 39,2% were males.
13
The questionnaire was administered to older adults living in Turkey, so all the participants
reported to live in Turkey and more than half of them were retired (58.8%).
14
While 76.5% of the participants lived in a city with more than 500,000 inhabitants, they agreed
with beach tourism, and cultural tourism options most. They were not interested in wildlife
tourism or adventure tourism.
15
Almost none of the participants travel with people they met via the internet. A great majority of
the respondents traveled with partners, friends, and family. Some barriers include lack of
financial resources, and health problems, but lack of time was not a problem.
16
Remembering words was seen as the greatest difficulty for the participants, which was followed
by fear of speaking or fear of making mistakes from time to time. However, most of the
participants disagreed with the reluctance factor to learn foreign languages. They also indicated
that they would use smartphones, laptops, and web pages for learning, but printed books or
board games were not preferred much.
17
Almost all of the participants indicated that they would probably use web pages, e-learning
platforms, mobile phone applications, CD-DVD, or written materials for learning a language.
More than half of the participants (64.7%) traveled to a foreign country before.
18
Almost all of the respondents want to learn English (96,1%). Their motivation to learn included
interest in language and interest in the culture mostly. Socializing with people and shopping were
preferred less.
19
The use of travel applications included mostly getting information about the destination and
discovering new places. Most of the participants are interested in learning materials that enable
learning by themselves and watching video materials.
20
The participants think that the existing materials do not have a connection to internet resources,
are not easy to use, and do not contain sufficient visual materials. They would like to have their
own app tailored to their specific needs.
The participants would like to have:
videos such as YouTube
promotion of visual learning materials through social media
interaction and speaking practice
effective learning and teaching and guiding exercises
self-learning
21
CONCLUSION
The population of elderly individuals has been growing throughout the world, and Turkey is no
exception. Although Turkey has a relatively younger population, the proportion of the elderly has
been increasing and is expected to continue increasing in the following years. Hence, the social
inclusion of elderly individuals is an important issue.
Being engaged in social life and learning are two prominent components of active ageing. Both
of them help elderly individuals feel better and increase their quality of life. Elderly individuals
enjoy learning new knowledge and skills that make their life more meaningful. Learning a foreign
language can be considered one type of learning that can be considered in this category.
Tourism is an important part of elderly individuals’ life. The participants who responded to the
questionnaire in Turkey were interested in the beach and cultural tourism rather than other types
of tourism. Cultural exchange requires traveling to other countries and speaking a common
language. Learning English could serve the purpose of cultural exchange in this age group.
The respondents in Turkey were not interested in traveling with people they met via the internet.
They were interested in traveling with people they know such as friends and relatives. The
process of planning their travel and learning something about the destinations, culture, and other
details about their travel could help elderly individuals to feel good and increase their quality of
life. This process could be enriched with a foreign language learning experience.
Some barriers prevent elderly individuals from being engaged in travel activities. Lack of financial
resources and health problems can be considered barriers. Pensions are not very high for many
retired people in Turkey. Travel expenses have become extra problematic, particularly after the
Covid-19 pandemic. Health considerations could also prevent elderly individuals from traveling
to other countries with unfamiliar health systems. On the other hand, lack of time is not a barrier
for elderly individuals. Elderly individuals who do not have severe health problems or who have
enough financial resources could enjoy traveling to increase their quality of life.
Everyone learns their own language with a fair degree of success; however, foreign language
learning processes may not be that easy for many people including elderly individuals.
Determination of common problems in learning a foreign language could help to eliminate these
problems. Remembering words and fear of speaking are the common problems experienced by
many elderly individuals. Education programs should consider how to make these learning
processes more effective for elderly individuals.
Elderly individuals who have time seem to be willing to learn a foreign language. This willingness
accompanied by life experiences can be utilized as an effective source of learning. In addition,
technological devices have been dominating our lives, and the life of elderly individuals are not
different. Learning materials provided through digital sources and devices seem to attract elderly
22
individuals’ attention more. Similar to other age groups, elderly individuals also find the sources
provided through web pages, applications, etc. more effective in terms of various aspects.
Elderly individuals’ motivation to learn English is intrinsic rather than extrinsic, which makes their
learning and teaching processes different. Exploring the culture of a country and learning the
language merely for learning about that language are important factors that motivate elderly
individuals in their learning processes.
Getting information about the destination and discovering new places are among the main
motivations of elderly individuals. Language learning materials could be designed to include
these in their content. Materials that enable learning by themselves and watching video
materials are interesting for elderly individuals. Video materials that include listening and
speaking activities and visuals that help them learn and remember vocabulary better are
important factors.
Existing materials do not seem to be effective and sufficient for elderly individuals due to a lack
of audio and visual materials specific to their level. Therefore, there is a need to design apps
tailored to their specific needs. Videos, the content presented on social media websites,
interaction and speaking practice, and self-learning can be listed among the methods found
effective by elderly individuals.
23
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Publishing house
Instytut Badan i Innowacji w Edukacji [INBIE]
Czecha 13 lok.65. 42-244 Częstochowa – Poland
Distribution: http://publisher.inbie.pl e-mail: info@inbie.pl
26
ELDERS LEARNING
ENGLISH FOR EUROPE
The TURKISH Case
DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.6651774
Publishing house
Instytut Badan i Innowacji w Edukacji [INBIE]
Czecha 13 lok.65. 42-244 Częstochowa – Poland
Distribution: http://publisher.inbie.pl e-mail: info@inbie.pl
Częstochowa, 2022
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Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Social Exclusion Behind Closed Doors
Age Concern England 2008. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Social Exclusion Behind Closed Doors. Age Concern England, London.
Exploring senior citizens´ insights about learning english as a foreign language (Bachelor's thesis)
  • A Conde Juárez
Conde Juárez, A. (2020). Exploring senior citizens´ insights about learning english as a foreign language (Bachelor's thesis).
Digital exclusion of elderly citizens: Polish experiences based on the project Adult Social Inclusion in a Digital Environment (ASIDE). Ekonomia
Digital exclusion of elderly citizens: Polish experiences based on the project Adult Social Inclusion in a Digital Environment (ASIDE). Ekonomia. 27. 53-62. 10.19195/2658-1310.27.4.4.