The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Thursday, June 11, 2015

EOAP: the rise of the 'grey learner'?

I'm just back from a fantastic trip to France, talking to teachers in Strasbourg, Lille and Paris about the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Most of the teachers I met were freelancers, getting work from a mix of in-company training, one-to-one's and some general English courses for adults. Nothing new there. But the theme that kept emerging from conversations that struck me most was how many mentioned teaching classes of largely retired people.

It seems that, in France at least, there's a demographic who studied English at school, way back when, but who probably learned very little and who now, with time on their hands and money to spend on lessons, are returning to the classroom. Some are using their retirement to travel the globe and recognise how useful English is as a lingua franca, others have children who've moved abroad and find themselves with English-speaking grandchildren.

I was chatting to my colleague, Julie Norton, about it on the train from Lille to Paris and we were speculating about whether there's a market for materials aimed at "the older learner". OUP's new Navigate series (which both Julie and I have worked on) is aimed squarely at adult learners, avoiding the fluffy celebrity-focused topics of many courses for the teen and young adult market, but what might a course in EOAP (English for OAPs) look like?

Would it cover topics like gardening? (One I've had rejected when I tried to slip it into materials before!) What about useful language for describing daily aches and pains? Could "hip replacement" become target vocabulary? And as my mum suggested when I was telling her about the idea on the phone yesterday evening, how about classic sports cars for the older gentleman?!

And of course, this would be alongside all those useful travel expressions and how to Skype your grandson in Canada. Just a thought ...

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Blogger Nergiz Kern said...

Julie, this is a brilliant idea. If the mainstream publishers are not ready for this, this could be a good one for self-publishing!

Nergiz Kern

12:31 pm  

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