Here’s why you can (and should) learn a foreign language as an adult

While it is true that learning a language is easier as a child as you are absorbing so much new information and creating your ‘normal’, there is this misconception that once you are an adult, it is too late to learn a second language. This could not be further from the truth! You absolutely can (and should) learn a foreign language as an adult and doing so can help expand your knowledge and way of thinking.

A recent study has even found that adults are perfectly capable of mastering new languages and that one’s ability to  do so is not impaired by age. In the journal Cognition, a paper titled “A Critical Period for Second Language Acquisition” was recently published highlighting this study. It was found that “the top quartile of results of learners who started after the age of 20, by number of years of exposure, showing that at around 8-10 years of exposure, many learners who started well into adulthood do just as well as native speakers”.

Not only does science back it up, today there are numerous resources (targeted for adults) that one may resort to in support of language learning. One may utilise YouTube for content consumption and guides, podcasts for organised lessons and free listening, and many websites available for a number of learning styles. Babbel, for example, requires only a computer or smart device to learn French or any other of the numerous languages available.

Learning a language takes dedication, so exposing yourself to and surrounding yourself with the language in as many ways as possible will help you along your learning path. To learn a language in the most effective way possible, consider what your learning style is, find tools to best support your learning style, set goals and track your progress so you hold yourself accountable. It does not mean that you have to throw yourself into grammar books; rather you will gain the most by developing habits and repeating patterns to help you learn.

Learning a new language should not only be considered a skill, but also a great way to boost the brain and benefit the mind. Learning a language requires your brain to operate in a while different way, so you are essentially learning how to learn something completely new. You’ll improve your memory, increase your attention span as you train your brain to stay focused and intent on operating in a whole other language, and expand your cognitive abilities. You’re never too old to boost your brain function!

Learning a new language may be a challenge, but it is absolutely worth the time and effort. Do not be discouraged by age, and instead use it as motivation to get your brain working in a whole other way than it is used to!

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