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International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching

Ed. by Jordens, Peter / Roberts, Leah

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Volume 57, Issue 2


Factors in language learning after 40: Insights from a longitudinal study

Olga Kozar / Lynda Yates
Published Online: 2019-05-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2015-0113


This study seeks to identify differences in language learning progress and experiences among 24 adult migrants, who arrived to Australia after the age of 40. The results suggest that age per se was not a reliable predictor of language learning progress. Instead, the initial English level of participants when they arrived to Australia, opportunities to use English and prior level of education were associated with considerable language learning gains. For example, participants who had a higher initial English level were able to find jobs that required them to perform a range of oral and written tasks across different domain, which further improved their level, while participants who had a low initial level were mostly unemployed. Another common factor we noted among participants with high and reasonable gains but not among those who made little progress was a proactive attitude and the use of a range of language learning strategies beyond the classroom. The study also revealed differences in age construal among participants with high and reasonable gains and those who did not improve.

Keywords: age; language learning; sociolinguistics; learners over 40; factors in SLA


[Correction added after online publication 19 July 2017: 3rd paragraph of the introduction, 3rd paragraph of the ‘Perspectives on age’, 7th paragraph of the ‘Perspectives on age’ and 1st paragraph of the ‘Adult immigrants and language learning’ were edited to improve the text.]


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-05-23

Published in Print: 2019-05-26

Citation Information: International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, Volume 57, Issue 2, Pages 181–204, ISSN (Online) 1613-4141, ISSN (Print) 0019-042X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/iral-2015-0113.

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