As we get older, it tends to be scarier trying to learn something new. Even if it’s not dangerous, like learning a language. This might be because it’s common to hear that we often hear that the best age to learn a new language is as young as possible. Otherwise, we might not get very far, or we might not be very good.
So, why even try learning a new language if you’re not going to achieve fluency? Well, because that’s not true. No matter your age, you can always learn another language and speak it fluently. It’s a matter of being consistent and practicing, not just age.
Is there a best age to learn a new language? We’re not going to lie to you, it might be best to acquire it when you are a kid or at least younger, but it’s not because of ability. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to learn a foreign language when you’re older!
Why Is It Better to Learn a New Language When You Are a Kid?
Babies have the ability to differentiate all the sounds from all the languages in the world. As time passes by, this ability decreases and they start learning only the ones that they hear more often. This means, they only keep the sounds they need for their native language.
But if you offer your kids a bilingual environment, they will keep many more sounds. The ones from their mother tongue, and the ones from the second language they have grown up listening to. They will basically learn, and, therefore, speak, another language like it’s their native.
This doesn’t mean, though, that kids will start speaking fluently right after a couple of classes. Just like with their native language, they don’t start speaking it right away. They explore their surroundings, and listen first; then start mumbling because they want to imitate what they hear.
Even for children, learning a language is a process. One that might seem easier because they are learning from a young age, and, probably, within a bilingual environment. But it’s a similar process when older. We just don’t remember the struggle as kids!
Despite the advantages that kids have for second language acquisition, adults have other capabilities that make them great language learners too.
You Can Still Learn Another Language As An Adult
Although it seems like the best age to learn another language is when you are younger, we argue that you are never too old to learn another language! In fact, you have other qualities that children don’t have yet. And those will help you in your foreign language learning journey.
Adults might learn the language faster than kids. Adults have more problem-solving skills, which makes them better at decoding grammar rules. While children learn grammar by absorbing it, elders do it by truly understanding the depths of it.
Once children get to a certain age, they start grammar classes, but adults have more skills to solve the confusing structures quickly. And this profound knowledge will lead to more advanced classes, and, therefore, a more advanced level. There have even been studies that show that adults can learn a new language faster than younger people.
Adults also have more experience with learning another language and can purposely learn. Meanwhile, toddlers might be learning two at the same time (their mother tongue and their second language) without a clear goal.
While the literal translation is not the best method to acquire a new language, it might work at the beginning. It can be a way of testing the waters of a new language. And a lot of students do it when they’re beginners. They gradually start thinking in their second language and stop translating. So, using their first language to translate ideas to the second language is a good exercise that adults can use to their advantage.
Usually, adults also have more attention span. So they can focus more and for more time during their language classes and exercises.
The older you get, you know your preferred learning style. As you grow up, you take different classes with professors with different teaching methods. This can help you realize your capabilities and preferences as a student. Do you prefer a theory learning approach? Or a dynamic approach? By knowing which teaching method you like the most, you can enroll yourself in those kinds of language classes. Learning the way you like is the best way to learn because you won’t be stressed.
The older you get, the more responsibilities you have, so it might be more difficult to study another language due to time restraints. You can take a couple of hours of language classes per week, but you can’t move to another country and immerse yourself for 6 months. Although, you can make good use of your personal and adult abilities to improve in your language journey.
What Can You Do to Learn a New Language as an Adult?
As you can see, kids and adults learn in different ways and have different qualities. But both can learn a new language. Sure, it’s more probable for kids to have a native level and not to have an accent. But there are studies that show that adults, with a little bit more effort, can also develop a native level.
If you’re worried about having an accent, don’t worry. You can take special accent classes, or just look for accent training tips. Remember not to stress out too much. As adults, getting rid of an accent can be difficult, and remember that it is not embarrassing to have one. It shows who you are.
Another great way to learn and improve in your new language is by doing so like a kid. As we explained, bilingual kids usually grow up in a dual language environment, whether that’s at home or at school. They are learning their second language like their first one: through exploring and listening to native speakers.
You could watch international Netflix, listen to podcasts in your target language, and read books from other countries. All of this before taking your first language classes, and also after doing it. So your everyday environment will be like the one of a bilingual kid.
Add Conversational Classes into your Routine
Most importantly, add some conversation classes with native tutors to your routine. TruFluency has the best online language classes. Our teachers are native speakers with decades of experience, so you’ll learn helpful and useful vocabulary and expressions.
And our classes are based on the Bellieu Method, which aims to make you fluent by customizing the classes for your goals and ensuring that what you learn is relevant.
All you have to do is choose your language and your teacher. Subscribe and get 20% off of your first month of classes with code TF20. You’ll see that learning effectively as an adult is possible!