Modern society is forming a new value system in which the possession of knowledge, skills and abilities is a necessary but far from sufficient result of education. Existing high requirements to modern specialists, such as the ability to navigate information flows, intercultural communication skills, ability to use innovative technologies in a timely and high-quality manner, increase the importance of foreign language skills as a tool for intercultural interaction. The knowledge of one or more foreign languages is one of the values of professional training and competitiveness of a specialist.
The impact of the above factors, as well as changes in the socio-cultural context of foreign languages, new demands of students in terms of their level of knowledge, the ineffectiveness of traditional education, often manifested in the lack and unclaimed application of the knowledge gained, in the inability of university graduates to effectively integrate into the production environment, have led to the need for intensification and efficiency of students’ training.
Of particular importance are the above-mentioned factors in the education of adults receiving a second higher education. The trend of constant expansion of the population falling under the definition of “adults in need of education and training” has led to the development of a new educational concept throughout conscious life (Life Long Learning), which aims to use the full educational potential of society to contribute to the comprehensive development of the individual.
The most flexible and evolving subsystem of continuing education is the system of additional professional education for adults. In this context, the concept of “adult learners” is becoming more and more common in the educational space. Comparatively young branches of science – andragogy and acmeology, the subject of which are the theory and methods of teaching adults in the context of continuing education, determine that the leading role in organizing the learning process belongs to the learner himself, it is the adult learner is an active element, one of the equal subjects of the learning process.
However, psychological features of cognitive activity of adults require the use of special learning technologies, adapted specifically for the training of adults and aimed at the development of all components of the learner’s personality: the development and maintenance of motivation, competence, professionally important qualities and significant psychophysiological properties. In this regard, the learner should take certain actions aimed at identifying the individual characteristics of adults,
that will actively influence the learning process. This provision is the basis for a stylistic approach to teaching foreign languages. Therefore, one of the ways of intensification and efficiency of adult learners’ learning activity is to focus on individualization of educational routes, development of teamwork skills, ability to act in different problem situations and to find adequate solutions.
The emphasis on communicative competence has led to the need to incorporate the conceptual ideas of a competency-based approach into the learning process, which is based on the transition to a practical way of organizing knowledge, to a strategy of increasing flexibility in the use of acquired skills and competencies, and to the expansion of future employment opportunities.
Accordingly, from the perspective of this approach, the goal of adult learning, which is not only to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities, but also to consistently form and develop communicative competence in a foreign language that is focused on the motives, the purpose of teaching adult learners.
The theory and practice of modern pedagogical, andragogical and acmeological sciences have necessitated the search for means of resolving contradictions between them:
- the society’s need for professionals capable of full intercultural professional communication and the existing approach to teaching adult learners’ foreign languages, which does not fully ensure the formation of foreign-language communicative competences, and therefore competent participation in intercultural dialogue;
- the objective need to implement a competency-based approach in determining the organizational structure in the process of forming the communicative competence of a future specialist and the existing narrow subject and knowledge training at the university;
- insufficient consideration of the importance of individual psychophysiological and social factors in adult learning and the problem of introducing adaptive technologies (a set of technologies), taking into account the above factors in the learning process.
In this regard, the relevance of the dissertation research lies in the need to develop a qualitatively new approach to adult learning, which is based on the synthesis of the ideas of a competency-based approach and taking into account the individual learning styles of students, allowing the transition from the traditional practice of transmitting ready-made knowledge to the creative process of obtaining knowledge, in which foreign-language communicative competence will be formed and honed.
In view of the above, research into the factors contributing to the formation and development of communicative foreign-language competences becomes particularly important.
Competence in adult learners, as well as individual learning styles of adults, characterizing their unique cognitive status, educational technologies of learning, adapted to the education of adult students, actively influencing the learning process and providing the opportunity to fully master the learning material.
Accounting for individual learning styles is aimed at identifying the characteristics of students, to maintain the existing motivation that will actively affect the learning process, as each adult learner perceives the information and master it depending on the psychophysiological characteristics and their own characteristics of cognitive activity.
On this basis, the object of the dissertation research is the process of developing foreign language communication competence in adult learners.
The subject of the research is individual learning styles of students, their accounting in teaching foreign languages on the basis of competence approach.
The purpose of the dissertation research is theoretical substantiation and practical realization of the model of foreign language learning by students taking into account their individual learning styles on the basis of the competence approach.
In the course of the theoretical research and the forming experiment, the hypothesis was tested that adult foreign language learning in line with the competency-based approach would be successful if:
- The formation and development of foreign language communication competence will be one of the main goals of the university educational process and a personal priority of the student;
- the theoretical and technological mechanism of realization of pedagogical model on the basis of the complex approach to training of adults in foreign languages will be developed;
- at the basis of the complex approach to teaching will be taken into account: a) individual learning styles of adults, formed under the influence of their psychophysiological characteristics and surrounding social factors; b) technologies, methods, teaching aids adapted to individual learning styles and providing the maximum individualization of the learning process.
The practical significance of the dissertation lies, firstly, in the development of an optimal competence model of adult education, taking into account the individual learning styles of students and the choice of appropriate technologies that allow to adapt to their common psychophysical features, providing the possibility of full mastering of educational material, which, accordingly, contributes to improving the quality of adult education. Second, the level of success in learning a foreign language has been characterized and statistically confirmed depending on the model of teaching offered. Thirdly, the results of the study can be used by higher education teachers to optimize the learning process and by students to increase the productivity of their educational activities.
While working on the dissertation, a set of educational materials for students of the evening department, an educational and methodical manual “Let’s speak good English”, which is a linguistic and pedagogical support to basic foreign language textbooks, as well as a set of linguistic and pedagogical tests, which can be used in the practical activity of teachers of both language and non-linguistic universities, have been developed.