The Open UniversitySkip to content

Learner characteristics and learning outcomes on a distance Spanish course for beginners

Coleman, James A. and Furnborough, Concha (2010). Learner characteristics and learning outcomes on a distance Spanish course for beginners. System, 38(1) pp. 14–29.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (211kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Much Second Language Acquisition research focuses on young learners in the conventional classroom. Instructed adult learners, and in particular those who are learning at a distance, have attracted less attention. This group is substantial and growing: the Open University, the largest higher education language provider in the UK, alone recruits some 8000 language students a year. The present large-scale study was undertaken to explore the learner characteristics and learning experience of adult distance language learners at beginner level, the relationship of these factors with successful language learning, and the outcomes of face-to-face or online tuition.

A longitudinal, quantitative design was adopted, involving pre-course and post-course questionnaires, and incorporating data on student profiles and learning outcomes. The questionnaire covered biographical variables, self-assessed initial proficiency, enjoyment and perceived achievement. This article profiles the learners and identifies factors related to successful distance language learning. Success is shown to relate to enjoyment and a sense of achieving goals. A comparison of results following online and face-to-face tuition demonstrates for the first time at scale that different modes of tuition do not necessarily lead to different learning outcomes: online language learning can be as effective as face-to-face teaching.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2009 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN: 0346-251X
Keywords: language learning; distance learning; online learning; learning outcomes; adult learners; learner characteristics
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Languages and Applied Linguistics
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Language & Literacies
Item ID: 19486
Depositing User: Colin Smith
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2010 16:23
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 13:43
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU