It’s a common misconception that you can’t learn a new language past a certain age. People think that their brains are too ‘slow’ and aren’t young enough to process so much new information. This article discusses the benefits of learning a new language in later life.
It’s a common misconception that when we leave our childhood behind, we leave our ability to learn new skills behind too. This is especially true, or so we think, when it comes to learning a new language.
If you have ever wanted to order in Italian or converse in German, you can, no matter how young or old you feel.
And here’s why learning a language at any age is not only possible but great fun too;
1. Change your expectations
Some people see speaking another language as taking on the persona of that country, so talking Italian means being Italian. But this isn’t always the case.
And fluency means different things too. To say you ‘speak Italian’ doesn’t necessarily mean you eat, think and drink it.
Speaking a language means being able to communicate with other people. Ordering your meal in Italian and having a light-hearted conversation with someone whilst waiting for your train or bus in their mother tongue is just fine too.
2. Tap into your motivation
Now that you have adjusted your vision of what success means for you, we come to the sometimes-thorny issue of motivation.
We assume that children learn without trying and that for us, as adults, we need to burn the midnight oil for anything to go into our saturated brains.
The solution is a little simpler but more complex than you may think because it comes down to motivation, something that ebbs and flows with life.
Motivation is the key to success. And so, there will be times when studying online courses you just can’t get the grammatical rule of a new language or you can’t quite pronounce a word or two correctly, but your determination will get you there.
You have decided to invest in a language course, you are committed to learning a new language, all valuable in keeping you motivated.
3. You can try it out
The best way of learning and cementing the learning of a new language is to practice the skill. For children, this means using a phrase or two on their next family holiday, if they have one.
As an adult, you are financially more stable (hopefully!) and thus, have the ability to travel. As well as sightseeing holidays, there are also a variety of breaks that are centred around learning and using a new language.
4. Previous experience
Another benefit of learning a new language as an adult is all that life experience we carry around with us.
You have achieved language fluency in your own language, or maybe more than one if your parents spoke more than one language to you.
All this means you have picked up on small pieces of information about language and communication, how things are said, their annunciation and how the emphasis on the wrong word at the wrong time can be the biggest insult.
You will have already spotted grammatical patterns and similarities between words. You can work out that some words we use in English have their roots in Latin, French and other languages.
Because you ‘see’ all this, you ‘see’ it too when studying online language courses.
5. You have study skills
You may not think it, but because you have studied previously, you have a smattering of study skills that come in handy when learning something new.
A key skill, for example, is being organised and being able to prioritise what needs to be done first. You will also understand how practising and trying things out is important too, but you have the reflective skills to be able to understand why something worked and why something didn’t.
All of these skills that you thought were lost and forgotten will come back, all combining to give you the success you want.
You understand that life is full of ups and downs. You understand that sometimes, things don’t go according to plan. and that means assignments might not the roaring success that you thought they would be BUT, you are still learning.
Speaking another language is all about confidence. The confidence to do something a little scary – we would all be more comfortable if we ordered our breakfast on the shores of Lake Garda in our own language but push your comfort zone and order with your new-found confidence in spouting Italian…