They say that learning a language gets more challenging the older you get. Research shows that young children are especially in tune with language and are better at this than adults – particularly during the first few years of life. In fact, some say that babies are born with the ability to learn languages, so it’s really never too soon to learn.
However, if you’re an adult and want to learn a language, it’s never too late either! Here are a few tips, resources and facts to help you learn a language no matter your age.
- Come up with realistic goals. The experts agree that language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals over several months. This technique can help you get motivated more because it’s a realistic timeline for achievement. Make sure your goals are specific, too. For example, set a goal of reading one newspaper article in your chosen language without having to reach for a dictionary.
- Stay motivated. Remind yourself frequently why you are learning the language. If it’s because you plan to backpack through Europe this summer, post a picture of your favorite sites abroad above your office computer. Another technique is to make a list of 10 reasons why you want to learn Mandarin Chinese, for example, and refer to it often.
- Determine which way of learning is best for you and stick to it. If you learn best with online apps that use flash cards, go for it. If you learn best using innovative approaches like BRIC Language Systems where you communicate with native speakers, that’s great too. Understand those elements and don’t allow yourself to lose focus. Stick with what works.
- Read because you want to. Reading for pleasure is one of the most rewarding experiences you can indulge in. It’s necessary to learning and exploring a language because repetition and familiarity is at the heart of everything. Not only are you exposed to a variety of terms, you can take your time breaking down complicated grammatical structures and spelling nuances that will stick with you long after the book is done.
- Age has nothing to do with it. Yes, there are studies that show children soak up a language faster than adults, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible or even that it will be overly difficult for an adult. Don’t let that keep you from diving right in with inspiration to learn and conquer any language.
- Remember that learning isn’t stagnant. Just because you got your verb conjugations down pat or you memorized some vocabulary, this doesn’t mean you “know” a language. A lot has to do with cultural learning, personal growth and improvement day after day. Strive to push yourself to the limits and you will be successful.