Some of us have had the opportunity to be exposed to a second or third language at an early age, but this is not generally the rule.
As parents we want to offer the best opportunities of better job prospects in the future to our children in this globalised world in which we live nowadays. We know that knowing more than one language will put them on the winning path.
As adults, we can have multiple reasons to learn a language, We might be pursuing a promotion at work, or a move to a new country, or just to be able to communicate confidently when visiting.
It's generally said that it's easier for children to master a second language. Is that right?
Various studies have tried to give an answer to the question. The latest ones, like the research published by Nienke Meulman, Monika Schmid and others, suggest that our capacity to learn tend to diminish gradually over our lives.
They compared children capacity to learn grammar rules in a second language to adults learning the same foreign language. They found that the children outperformed the adults. Among other reasons they pointed out that children spent more time and effort on learning. Another reason was that the human brain is specifically sensitive to linguistic input, including grammar, up to puberty.
Some other researchers even suggest that this so called "critical period" closes a young as the age of five. They indicate that the ideal time to learn is between age three and five alongside their primary language. They pointed out that the younger the learner, the more they can adopt pronunciation and recreate sounds.
Despite their differences of opinion, they all agree that it is much harder to learn a language after puberty.
Where does that live us, adults? Does it mean that all our time and efforts invested in learning a second language will inevitably come to nothing? Are we setting up for failure?
certainly not. Adults have some advantages that children usually don't have.
* The first and powerful one is MOTIVATION
Adults are usually highly motivated when learning a language. Most of the time this new language acquisition will produce tangible rewards like a job promotion, relocation, the satisfaction of being independent when travelling, the list is endless.
* Adults don't start from scratch.
Some vocabulary, grammar rules might be similar in their target language.
* Adults are more enthusiatic
They tend to immerse themselves more in the language they're studying learning about the culture, listening to the news, radio and watching videos in their second language to boost their learning experience.
* Adults can dedicate more time to self study.
On the other hand, adults can learn from children and lose the fear of making mistakes. They can accept, with practice, that mistakes are part of the learning process.
We should all remember that age is only one part of the equation and that multiple other factors should be taken into consideration.
Let us know what age did you start studying a foreign language and how is it going for you? Feel free to Comment below.
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