Am I Too Old to Learn a Language? How to Use Your Age to Your Advantage
We like to think people are never too old to do something they find fun. And we also believe that learning languages are fun. So it goes without saying that for us, it’s both fun and possible to learn a language at any age. Don’t believe us? Here’s why you can learn a language at any age — and how you can use your age as an advantage for learning.
Discipline is a huge advantage that comes with age. We go through years of disciplining ourselves with our work and schedules, so by the time we decide to study something later in life all that discipline is helpful. We know what limits we can push ourselves to with our time, and understand realistically how many minutes we can dedicate to a new task before becoming bored. We can tell what is going to keep us motivated, and know instinctively what will not. So why not use all that we have learned through disciplining ourselves to study a language?
Method of learning
When you study as a teenager, there are all kinds of methods of learning that you will probably go through before finding out what works best. By the time you are old enough to want to study something additional for fun like a language, you will know what method works for you. Are you a kinesthetic learner? Visual? Enjoy audio or reading material to help you learn? You already know all the tips and tricks that have made you an effective learner using that method. Those skills are transferable to learning a language. Why not give it a go?
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What is enjoyable?
You know what books you enjoy reading, and what shows and films you like to watch. So for adult learners it goes without saying that you know how to use those interests to your advantage. This applies to studying as well! You can watch some of your favourite Netflix shows in the language you are learning with English subtitles to help you follow along. You can find blogs to read about your interests in your target language, safe in the knowledge that most browsers will provide you with at least a rough translation. Studying can be slipped in to the things you are already doing. Isn’t multitasking the best?
Confidence is also something that comes with age. And while it’s true not all of us are blessed with an abundance of it, a life of working gives us the confidence in our own skills. So, that could mean having the courage to speak up in a classroom, if you decide that group study is the best way to help you study a language. Or, it could be that you reach out to find language partners in your area. You know best how to trick yourself into confidence if it isn’t something you are naturally gifted with; take advantage of that!
The chances are if you’re considering learning a language at an older age, there are already many hurdles you have overcome in your life. If you’ve got through a difficult promotion at work or dealt with problems in your personal life you already know you can come out the other side of it. That is the same for learning something new. No matter how difficult you are finding a grammar point or how impossible a text is to understand, you know you have been through other difficulties and still been successful. The same is true for language learning!
Facts and figures
We all hear that it’s easier for kids to take on a new language, as though once we are older we lose the skill altogether. Well, according to MIT, that just isn’t true at all. Since while those younger than 18 have a better likelihood of obtaining native-like fluency in a language, it doesn’t mean that adults can’t as well! A study conducted by MIT in 2018 showed that many language students who learn after the age of 20 are able to outperform native speakers. In other words, don’t believe all you hear, you know yourself better! If you believe in yourself, who knows what you can do?
In short, there is no reason for a person of whatever age to successfully learn a language. So when are you going to start learning?