Adult versus children learning
Although it is my opinion that children and adults differ in the degree to which methods facilitate their learning, I still think that both have the ability to profit from the use of those similar methods. Such strategies as rehearsal and repetition seem to work especially well with children, though less so with adults. I believe this has to do with the fact that children naturally find repetition a diverting exercise, while adults generally dislike doing it. Motivation, therefore, plays a major role in the success of both learners.
Such methods of learning as metaphors and imagery would appear to have similar effects on both adults and children. It would seem to me that these methods would work better with adults, who are likely to already possess a schema for much of what is being learned and would thereby be able to make better connections. However, I once read of such learning inhibitors as interference (especially in adult language learning), in which prior knowledge of a language and expectations about learning get in the way of the information to be assimilated (August, 2006).
Motivation is also a critical aspect of learning (Zhao & Mogan, 2004). Adults tend to be more motivated when learning, and therefore, in such cases will be able to benefit from methods that might otherwise not be conducive to adult learning. I think the efficacy of such methods as repetition is dependent on the person’s willingness to do it. A motivated adult would therefore benefit from repetition as a learning method.
For example, a few summers ago I tried to learn German, and even though I stopped after a few months, I find that the motivation I had at the time caused me to learn quite a few vocabulary words via repetition. This is the same method I used as a child while learning Spanish in high school. As an adult, my motivation was to communicate with a Swiss friend whom I was tutoring; as a child, it was to continue getting some of the highest Spanish grades in my class. Both experiences suggest to me that children and adults tend to learn in similar ways.
August, G. (2006). “So, what’s behind adult English second-language reading?” Bilingual Research Journal. 30(2), 245-264.
Zhao & Morgan. (2004). “Consideration of Age in L2 Attainment – Children, Adolescents and Adults.” Asian EFL Journal. 6(4), 1-13.