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2022-06-13 14:17:32

Can adults effectively learn foreign languages?

Can adults effectively learn foreign languages?

As we get older, we often put off some of our dreams and desires. You may have heard many times that learning a foreign language for an adult can be difficult. Is this true?

The older we are, the more filled our piggy bank of life tools becomes, which can, on the contrary, facilitate the chance of learning a new language. Each person has a unique set of skills and abilities that help to learn about the world around them. What beliefs prevent us from learning new languages from scratch? And what can we really expect?

It's much harder for an adult – a myth

It's amazing how many inhibitions sit in our heads! Many of them are our fears or imposed beliefs. Despite the goal, often an adult leaves the path. What myths or beliefs surround us and prevent the realization of our dream of learning a foreign language?

  • Myth 1. We often hear that adults have a much harder time learning foreign languages than children. This belief has long been refuted, an adult is much easier to master new information for himself. The only thing that children can really excel at is the right accent. However, adults are quite capable of reaching a high level in this aspect. 

Schoolchildren often do not worry about learning a foreign language, while a student, for example, may begin to experience discomfort in his misunderstanding of the material. Such an adult belief can easily be rethought and directed in the right direction.

  • Myth 2. Often we think that teaching a foreign language will be at the same level as for schoolchildren. In this case, the teaching methods will be completely different. An adult tries to start learning a foreign language in a "natural" way, as it was with his native language, but such an attempt leads to disappointment and refusal to achieve his goals. It is important to realize that it is cognitive experience that will play into the hands, and not imitation of children.
  • Myth 3. It is impossible to translate from the native language into a foreign language. This belief is destructive for an adult student! If you follow it, you will lose one main advantage - fluency in the native language. Often, many aspects of one language can be directly transferred to another, and this fact cannot be ignored when learning.

Positive attitude

Any of the above myths can seriously undermine the motivation of an adult. So how do you set yourself up to learn a new language? A lot of research has been done on this topic, and here are a few basic rules for approaching learning foreign languages and achieving your goals.

  1. One of the interesting rules is to make a foreign language a part of your life. It's important for you to develop a habit. For example, more and more often textbooks began to come with sets of stickers with foreign words. For example, you're learning Spanish. Buy some extra packs of colorful stickers and write the words you most often find in the home. In the drawer of the kitchen table where the cutlery is located, paste up bright pieces of paper by name. And then, when you take out a tenedor fork or a cuchara spoon. , you will involuntarily read the names. Thus, you will memorize and associate the word with the object. This approach will make it easier to learn a foreign language.
  2. The second rule is to tune in to a positive wave. According to studies, it is positive information that is processed by a person much more efficiently, better remembered and stored longer than negative information.  And if you think that such a fact is just words, then we dare to assure you that according to this theory, a lot of research has been conducted on memorizing words, grammatical constructions, dialogues and texts. The results showed the superiority of positive information. Over the negative. What does this mean? For adult students, this will be a real salvation. Of course, the highest level cannot be reached exclusively on positively colored phrases, but positive linguistic characteristics will be easier to process, remember and further recall from memory. Thus, you can give yourself an advantage and an additional incentive to conquer new heights.
  3. Often, based on information and ways of memorizing it, we forget about a deeper thought process. At school, we have repeatedly heard that for good memorization of the text it is necessary to read it aloud. Such a practice for an adult student will not always turn out to be successful. The problem is that when we read aloud a text in a foreign language, we involuntarily focus not on the words themselves and their content, but on the pronunciation. Words are poorly remembered. The tasks created in this way are superficial for learning – for a deeper understanding of the language, it is best to do tasks where it is necessary to paraphrase the text. In this case, you need to express the meaning of the words, and not just repeat them.

Regular study of a foreign language can be difficult for adult students, since we are largely not immune from the main activity. But if there is a pause in learning, it is important to realize that the knowledge that has been deposited in the head is our advantage. Such a process is comparable to a habit to which a person returns after a long break. The main thing to remember is that it is much easier to re-learn than to learn from scratch!

Any goal you set for yourself must be achieved. Fear or general misunderstanding is the norm. The main thing is to go to your dream and not to postpone for later.

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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