Cognitive and Affective Characteristics of Children in EFL Classes

Mostafa Morady Moghaddam, Shirin Malekzadeh


The role of age in second language learning has been the concern of many researchers and educators to the date since children enjoy different characteristics in comparison to adults. This qualitative study aims at investigating cognitive and affective features of successful and less successful children in EFL classes. Regarding the influential role of interaction between teachers and children, the way teachers reacted to children’s cognitive and affective status has been examined too. 152 children were chosen randomly from various English institutes in Mashhad, Iran. Moreover, in order to figure out the quality of teacher talk, 43 EFL classes were observed and the voices of teachers were audio-recorded for further investigation. The findings of this study revealed that proficient students in EFL classes benefited from various cognitive and affective characteristics. In addition, the teacher discourse was richer with respect to proficient children in a way that the quality of teachers’ interactions with proficient children enjoyed more positive cognitive and affective feedback. It was realized that when proficient learners lacked necessary knowledge to come up with cognitive challenges, they got positive affective feedback and positive or neutral cognitive feedback. However, with less-proficient children, teachers mostly used negative affective feedback and neutral or negative cognitive feedback. This study is fruitful for the teachers who want to improve the quality of teaching English to children and for those researchers who are interested in child second language learning.
Key words: EFL learners; Children; Cognitive characteristics; Affective features; Teacher discourse; Feedback

Résumé: Le rôle de l'age dans l'apprentissage d'une deuxième langue a été la préoccupation de nombreux chercheurs et éducateurs puisque les enfants profitent des caractéristiques différentes par rapport aux adultes. Cette étude qualitative vise à étudier les caractéristiques cognitives et affectives des enfants plus ou moins réussis dans les classes ALE. En ce qui concerne le rôle influent de l'interaction entre les enseignants et les enfants, la façon dont les enseignants ont réagi à la situation cognitive et affective des enfants a été également examinée. 152 enfants ont été choisis au hasard dans de différents instituts de l'anglais à Mashhad, en Iran. De plus, afin de comprendre la qualité de discours de l'enseignant, 43 classes ALE ont été observées et les voix des enseignants ont été enregistrées sur pour des enquêtes approfondies. Les conclusions de cette étude ont révélé que les étudiants compétents dans les classes ALE ont bénéficié de différentes caractéristiques cognitives et affectives. En outre, le discours de l'enseignant était plus riche en respect vis-à-vis des enfants compétents, alors la qualité des interactions des enseignants avec les enfants compétents ont plus de rétroaction cognitives et affectives. On a réalisé que lorsque les apprenants compétents n'avaient pas de connaissances nécessaires pour régler des problèmes cognitifs, ils pouvaient tout de même avoir des commentaires affectifs positifs et des rétroactions cognitives positives ou neutres. Cependant, avec des enfants moins compétents, les enseignants utilisaient souvent des commentaires affectifs négatifs et des rétroactions cognitives neutres ou négatives. Cette étude est fructueuse pour les enseignants qui veulent améliorer la qualité de l'enseignement de l'anglais aux enfants et pour les chercheurs qui s'intéressent à l'apprentissage des enfants d'une deuxième langue.
Mots-clés: Apprenants ALE; Enfants; Caractéristiques cognitive; Caractéristiques affectives; Discours des enseignants; Rétroaction


EFL learners; Children; Cognitive characteristics; Affective features; Teacher discourse; Feedback; Apprenants ALE; Enfants; Caractéristiques cognitive; Caractéristiques affectives; Discours des enseignants; Rétroaction

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