There has been study after study that supports the theory that children learn a foreign language quicker and easier than adults, with parents and schools investing heavily in the pursuit of bilingualism from a young age. While it may be true that children learn a new language easily, it may not necessarily mean that it is easier for children than for adults.
Having seen enthusiastic Spanish language-learners of all ages coming through our Virtual Academy, there are many ways that adults make far better language learners:
Adults are more motivated and understand why it’s a key skill
Adults often have a specific reason to learn a foreign language; needing to learn Spanish for work meetings, a new partner from a different country or an interest to travel around South America, are just a few that we have come across recently. Enthusiasm and interest is crucial when learning a foreign language, something which is often lacking for young children who are made to learn a language by their parents or teachers, without really understanding the benefits or having a burning desire to do so.
Better resources to practice
Adults are willing to invest heavily in learning and nowadays they can use hundreds of ways to learn a language. From eLearning, to watching TV series in the target language, to finding friends who are native; adults are extremely creative in their pursuit of knowledge. An increase in travelling among adults has also opened up the possibilities for practising speaking with native speakers.
Linking culture to language
Spanish, for example, is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and knowing the language opens up more than a continent of culture. With international travel being cheaper than ever, why bother reading about the typical cuisine of Spain in a textbook when you could travel there and enjoy a typical Paella in person? Adults have greater access to the cultures associated to these languages, which helps enormously when understand the intricacies of a foreign tongue.
More free time and focus to invest in language
Dance classes, singing lessons, violin practise… children nowadays have a packed schedule of activities. Adults tend to take up one hobby at a time, leaving them focused solely on that language and invest their time outside of work, or even during retirement.
Life begins at…?
Most people retire in their 60s and with the improvement of health care, retirees can expect to live 20-30 years more. This gives language learners more than enough time during retirement to get to a strong level. More money, time to travel, time to focus on the language means that, in many ways, learning a language as an adult could actually be an advantage.
It may be that there has been a huge focus on children learning languages successfully, but it needs to be stressed that this doesn’t mean that adults aren’t able to also successfully learn new languages nowadays. With easier access to learning tools, classes and the culture of the target language, adults have plenty of opportunity to get speaking a new lingo… learning a language isn’t child’s play after all!
If Spanish is your next language to learn, On-Español offers the high-quality language teaching of a traditional academy, with the convenience and flexibility of online learning. Click here for more information.