Language learning

Is Language Learning Only for Children?

There is a common belief that language learning becomes impossible with age due to brain plasticity decreasing in the later years. In other words, adults learn slower.

However, if you look further into the subject you will find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Some of our students learning in our French classes.

Adult learners have strong advantages over children that put them in an excellent position to speak another language

Advantage: You already speak one language fluently 

Firstly, you already speak your mother tongue well in comparison to a child. In your adult life, you have encountered complex texts and have had to express yourself to a much higher standard. You have a better understanding of reading, speaking and understanding. This would serve as a foundation on which you can compare a foreign language to. When you learn a new word you would already know the English equivalent and when and where to use it. This prior knowledge means you are building your language rather than a first-time discovery.

Advantage: Brain Development 

Another factor that puts adults in a better position to learn is that the brain is fully formed and so is the physical body. A child may spend time trying to differentiate between the n and m sounds when trying to spell a word or struggle to form the sounds when speaking. Adults, unlike children, have already finished the growing stages which means they can move forward with the information given to them with relative ease. 

Think how long it took a five-year-old to develop the speech of a five-year-old! Children are physically developing unlike adults who are complete in growth, therefore learning can be a long process due to the sheer amount of milestones they have to reach. The average size of an adult’s vocabulary is 20,000 to 35,000 words whereas the average 8-year is 10,000. So when it comes time to learn the language, there is an illusion that children are speaking more fluently. This is because socially we expect a child to use less complex language and fewer diverse words. When an adult wants to use a second language, they are looking at a much larger mountain to climb. 

Advantage: You can follow rules (mostly)

There are a lot of rules in language learning. When trying to put words together we must remember grammar, sentence structures and tenses. Adults tend to be better at following instructions and regulating themselves compared to children, therefore putting them at an advantage in learning. 

Disadvantage: Brain Plasticity

It is often argued that adults learn slower due to the brain’s plasticity decreasing over time. Sadly, this is true. However, one can argue you simply do not need to have an ultra-flexible brain as you have already accomplished crucial milestones

Though do not use the classic excuse! Everyone and anyone has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to learning. As long as you are motivated and apply yourself, there is just no stopping you!

Study a foreign language today!