There is a common misconception that the older you get, the harder it is to learn a new language. Whilst the idea of enrolling on a language course may raise concerns such as “Will I remember my muy from my mucho?”, it is often fear rather than age which stops people from learning a new language as an adult. In fact, a mature student is equipped with many skills which a younger counterpart may not have…
“As an adult you have already learned how to learn.”
You know what works for you, and how to use particular strategies for learning. Another benefit that you may have over your younger counterparts is the amount of time you can devote to studying. In particular, if retirement is approaching and the children have flown the nest, it may now be possible to enrol in longer courses rather than squeezing in one evening course per week.
“Learning a new language is like giving your brain a gym work-out”
It can literally grow your brain, as seen in the study conducted by Lund University which monitored language students at the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy. Over 3 months, MRI scans of the students revealed that specific sections of their brain responsible for developing new knowledge and consolidating short-term memory into long-term memory had grown in size.
“Learning another language delays the onset of dementia”
The Alzheimer’s Association states that today there are over 5 millioin Americans living with this untreatable disease. Yet, learning another language can slow the brain’s ageing. Research carried out by the Indian Department of Science and Technology fount that, on average, signs of dementia appeared 4 and a half years later in bilinguals as compared to those who spoke only one language.
What about the social benefits of learning a new language?
Signing up for a course of joining an online community opens the door to meeting new people and making new friendships. Sharing the same passion for a language and culture is the perfect starting point for a conversation!
So the next time you hear someone saying learning a new language is more difficult with age, it is worth remembering individuals over the age of 50 are responsible for great achievements. Sony chairman, Akio Morita introduced the Sony Walkman aged 58, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of “Lord of the Rings” aged 62 and John Glenn became the oldest person to go into space aged 77. If you are a mature budding linguist, you should embrace taking up a new language. After all, it is never too late to try something new.
Spanish Marks is an ethical Spanish language school which connects students to teachers from Guatemala through online classrooms. If you would like to connect with one of our teachers for a free Spanish lesson and assessment of your level, sign up here!