This qualitative study is a basic interpretative inquiry studying the experiences of adult students 18 years of age and older in a multi-generational ESL classroom. The study is informed by social constructivism, social constructionism, and andragogy. It focused on how students viewed their experiences in the multi-generational classroom and how the development of relationships among students of different ages affected the dynamics within an eikaiwa classroom. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Three major themes emerged from this study. The first theme dealt with their first impressions and highlighted the participants' anxiety about being in a multi-generational classroom. It also highlighted the perceived differences between the generations. The second theme focuses on adapting and relationship building with students from different generational cohorts and the development of understanding and tolerance among them; on the mutual nurturing that developed; on the manifestations of teasing; and the role of instructor facilitation. The third theme focuses on students' lasting impressions of their experiences in a multi-generational classroom and highlights: the mutual learning experiences between adult students and traditional-age students; the advice to students in similar situations; and the belief that, in the end, in such situations age does not matter, but the experience of learning together does matter. The research ends with a discussion in light of the adult education literature and suggestions for further research.
Jeremy Chambers, Advan College of Foreign Languages, Japan
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
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