4 Advantages of Learning a New Language as an Adult

woman overlooking Kunming, China

Have you ever used the excuse that you’re too old to do something before?

Well, you’re not going to be able to use that excuse when it comes to learning a new language. I’m here to tell you that it’s entirely possible to learn a new language later in life.

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In fact, older people have many advantages over younger people when it comes to language learning. Intrigued to what those advantages are? Keep reading.

Adults learn faster than children

woman studying Mandarin at a library in Kunming, China

It’s a little bit of a myth that once you hit your 50s that you can’t learn a new language.

A study completed by Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley compared the learning abilities of adults in different age groups. Each group learned the same words in the new language within the same learning environment. The results showed that people over 50 didn’t experience a harder time learning a new language.

Children and babies normally have more time to develop language skills because it’s integrated into their day and they don’t have other responsibilities to think about. When adults take the time off work, or learn a new language in retirement, many of them learn as fast or even faster than young children.

As you age, you have the needed knowledge that comes with language learning. You may not realize it, but because adults have a much larger vocabulary than children it makes it easier to pick up hundreds (if not thousands) of new words in a shorter time.

Children do have an easier time perfecting the sound of a language because adults can get stuck in their own heads sometimes. So, it might take adults a bit longer with pronunciation and accents, but the actual vocabulary is far easier for an adult to learn since new words can be compared to pre-existing knowledge.

Motivation is key

A group of adults sitting at a desk together working

If you’re looking to learn a new language, you’re going to create a learning routine. You’re going to have to be disciplined, motivated and interested.

While younger children have stronger powers of mimicry and retention, adults have the ability to self-motivate themselves. Kids seem to have jittery legs and minds and have a harder time sitting down and studying.

Adults typically want to learn, if they’ve decided a new language is something they’d like to know. Learning a language is a choice, which makes the lessons easier to absorb.

When you’ve decided to learn a new language later in life, it’s important to know the commitment you’re going to have. Learning a language takes time, motivation and effort. To help you stay motivated, find your favourite learning style, set clear and achievable goals and remind yourself why you started.

Adults learn in a different way

Two male students learning on the computer

As an adult, you may not have sat behind a school desk for a few years. You probably haven’t had to revise in the evenings or prepare study notes. A lot has changed since you went to grade school, except your passion to learn. Hold onto that, you’re going to need it!

Adult brains may not be as active and ready to learn as a younger one that is constantly experiencing new things, but that doesn’t mean it’s not able to learn. Adults just learn in a different way.

Start slow, take in bits of new information and build up from words and phrases to sentences.

Treat the new language like a puzzle and pay attention to grammar. Be patient and learn gradually. It’s not a race to learn this new language. Studies have shown that adults learn best when exposed to new ideas slowly, over time. Take your time to fully comprehend this new language.

As long as you’re keeping your brain active, learning a new language is possible. On that note, learning a new language keeps your brain healthy and active. It’s a win win.

You have the ability to move around

Man in the airport waiting to fly to Kunming, China

During our youth, we were enrolled in the nearest school and sent off every day to be taught by our local teachers.

As an adult, we have the ability to pick where we want to study and what we want to study. Thinking of learning Mandarin because it’s the most spoken language in the world? Why not travel to Kunming, China to study abroad.

Take advantage of the travel opportunity, speak with native speakers, listen to local radio and read books and magazines in the new language.

Becoming a student later on in life has so many benefits and advantages. Not only will you learn a new language, keep your brain healthy and sharp, but you have the opportunity to explore the world.

Visit Kunming, China

Airplane touching down in Kunming, China

If you’re looking to learn Mandarin and visit Kunming, China, Keats School is the place for you. We offer eight different study abroad programs, accommodation, food and we even help with your visa application.

To learn more about Keats and the best study abroad option for you, contact us today.

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