The Case for Fluency: Are You Too Old to Conquer a Language?
One of the common beliefs that plague many adult language learners is that it is impossible to become fluent in a language once you are past a certain age. While studies have shown that the younger an individual is when learning a foreign tongue the better, this doesn’t necessarily mean that conquering a new language as an adult is impractical. In fact, believe it or not, it is very possible for your grown-up self to become completely fluent in any language of your choosing. Sound too good to be true? Read on to get all the facts on attaining fluency in adulthood!
Adults = Systematic Learning
Science shows that children tend to achieve fluency quickly and easily –at times even capable of speaking like a native of the language. Impressive, right? And yet, grown-ups need not be discouraged: adults can learn to speak well too, but just need different tools to do so. When it comes to learning new vocabulary and language structures, studies have shown that adults excel simply because their cognitive and linguistic abilities are far more developed. Life experience and a mastering of our native language allows us to make better language associations and stretch theories from our own language to apply them to the new one. Although children learn more naturally, adults learn more systematically, making for a better language experience.
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Adults = Heavy Accents
Without a doubt, one of the banes of learning a foreign tongue as an adult is that you will most likely never sound like a native speaker. For the rest of your life you will sport an accent which automatically informs your listener that you are not a local. Although having a heavy accent may not be ideal, it doesn’t at all signify that becoming fluent is an impossible and pointless venture. Studies have shown that the accent is possibly one of the least important parts of language proficiency. In all truth, your accent has very little bearing on you making yourself understood. Of course, never forgo attempting to attain that perfect accent, but don’t spend too much time fretting about its overall impact. Remember: it’s not the accent that matters but the knowledge.
Adults = Disciplined Study
Perhaps the biggest, and most important, difference between learning a language as an adult and learning it as a child is that you are (hopefully) doing it because you want to. Children often take part in language study because they have to, and while keeping languages in school curriculums is of vital importance, many youngsters tend to not give language learning the importance it deserves. You, on the other hand, are an adult who understands the significance and value of learning a language and who is capable of setting your own personal goals and working towards them. Your reasons for learning French, or German, or Mandarin are very clear: perhaps for your career, for personal fulfillment, or because you plan on moving abroad. This adult reasoning makes you more likely to apply yourself and be disciplined about conquering a language – hence making you much more likely to succeed at doing so.
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Now that your hopes for language fluency are renewed, it’s time to make it a reality! Having the right learning tools available is a key part of ensuring your language journey is a successful one. Be sure to sign up for some excellent language classes in your area and take advantage of our free online placement tests to make sure you’re advancing at the rate that’s right for you. Sure, conquering a new language as an adult will be more difficult than attaining fluency as a child, but as you’ve seen it’s definitely not impossible. With discipline and hard work you’ll acquire these top skills in no time!