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How easy is it for older people do you think to learn languages? Does it make a difference or just confidence?



I was wondering what people think? Are there others out there who have learned/are learning one or more language later in life like me? I am learning because of family reasons. But I always wished I could speak another language. I know some German but bery basic. I would like to learn French but now on here it makes me want to learn more! But I wondered if I should leave learning another language till next year or learn two new languages side by side? Please let me know what you think and your experiences! I am thinking of learning Arabic as I have always wanted to learn but I think I would be happy just to be able to speak some phrases. i also fancy learning Russian! But i cant do everything I know!



Unless you're a natural polyglot, I'd stick to learning one language at a time until you've at least mastered the basics, because otherwise you risk getting thoroughly confused and not doing any of the languages justice.


I'm not suggesting you can only learn a new language at 5 year intervals, but I'd at least get to foundation level in one before I started on a second, a third or a fourth. 


As for age, I think once you're an adult, it doesn't make any difference whether you're 20 or 70. Children are like sponges and soak everything in very quickly, but that ability fades once one reaches adulthood. I think a 50 year old is just as capable of becoming fluent in a second language as a twenty year old.

Few months ago, I asked a similar question about learning two languages simultaneously and this is one of answers  I got. Hope you find it helpful. :)

"I'm going to just ignore the "how" and suggest that you not do this. Humans are not especially good at multitasking or learning new abilities simultaneously, even if we tell ourselves otherwise. Pick one language, fully immerse yourself in it, work your ass off until it's very good, and THEN go to a new one. Learning two, even if they're very different, will still be potentially confusing, and it's going to take a lot longer to see nice results with either one. In fewer words, focus on one and then on the other. Don't worry about what other people are doing; staying single-minded will likely help in the long run."


I think it'll slow you down to do two at the same time but you know yourself best so maybe you could try it, who knows you might get a good routine going, but maybe you'll find that you could see that your French would improve faster if you stopped with the other language. It's not much fun being a beginner so it might be worth focusing hard on one until you get to a good intermediate level before moving to the next one. 


I don't think age matters, sure when you're a child it's easier than adult in some respects, usually to do with immersion but I don't notice any difference in my ability to start and learn a language when I was a teenager to now. 


Good luck!



I think that age does not matter, as long as you've already learned a second language.  The more I know about language, the more I believe it is a tool for communication.  I don't think one can confuse with different langauges when learning more than one, especially those are of from different language family. 

In theory, I think you should have confidence to learn quite a lot when you're older. Usually through jobs and general life experience, you come to appreciate that if you have a plan, you can accomplish quite a bit. Plus, you're often clearer on the reasons to learn something.


I took Spanish in high school and did OK, but never really stuck with it or cared because, at the time, I saw no need for it... we were simply required to take some sort of foreign language in school. Now, as I approach learning a new language, I have more learning resources and ways to learn a language than I did in high school, pre-Internet. And I have a better reason than, "It's a requirement to graduate."


I think the one trouble we do have when we're older is getting easily side-tracked. Work, family, etc. Unless we have a strong reason "why" we want to learn a language, it will be very easy to waste away those spare minutes that could be better spent on a goal like learning a new language.


While the Internet has opened up a new world of learning, it's also created the biggest group of distractions any generation has ever faced.


Also, just me, but I'd go with one language at a time. And I would ensure I did something every day, no matter how small, that moved me forward on that language.


I think it makes a big difference whether you are old or not. 


A child of 7 or 8 still has a limited vocabulary and base ability in the native language even though they were in total immersion the entire time. I can get there much faster than that. 


The older I get the easier it gets too! I know more about my brain now that I am a senior citizen and I have finally figured out how to learn. I know what works for me and what doesn't. 


I spent many years exercising my brain and developing observational and cognitive skills that I didn't have when I was younger. 


I have learned patience. I don't think that I have to learn something in 3 months. I can make 5 or 10 year plans with ease and comfort. A year in the perspective of my life is a very short time whereas to young people it seems like an eternity. The older I get, the more patient I get. 


to be continued....


I've also very slowly learned how to be consistent. It has taken a lifetime for me to learn this lesson and I am still learning it. When I was younger I couldn't possibly do what I am doing now to learn languages.

I have more patience and compassion for others learning too from long experience of how hard life is so I can be patient with others who are learning in ways that I never could have when I was younger. This makes exchanges a good way to learn for me now.

Since the internet and phones and all this new fangled stuff is new to me I can be very specific and focussed on just one or two things and not feel like I have to do everything. The younger folks are often so inundated and have been so trained to think in tiny tweets that they might lack the focus and one mindedness I have about learning my languages.

I am not learning to pass a test or because someone told me to or I have to for work. This is actually a real plus because I can do it how I WANT to do .... to have fun. People learn faster and better when they are having fun.

I could write more... but you get the idea. I think you and I have a great advantage.

I may take my experience in learning English as an example in contrast with your age. I suppose you are even younger than me.


I have been learning English for more than 20 years since I was at high school. My memorization used to be good and powerful to overcome some possible humps during the course of learning English, however, it is a pity that I did not have much time and many opportunities to practice my speaking and writing. It was taken as read that I have good English competency English at high school. That might be wrong image for me. By the time I decided to brush up my English, I had lost my precious golden time to learn English. My memorization is not all that good as I used to at my teenage, none the less, I may compensate my weakiness with sophisticated organization and structuring power, it carries a little painstaking and suffering though.


In general, to learn a new lanugage requires not only your talent but also your time and environment. When you are young, you are supposed to have plenty time and full of beans which indicates you have an abundant asset to deal with a variety of problem on the road . On the other hand, if you are old enough (more than 40s), you probably do not have good memorization and intelligence to go through the course of learning a new lanugage. Either side,  you have to be honest to be aware what you have and what your losing right now. 


There is no rules without an exception. Perhaps you are an phenomenon, but most people ought to select the best moment to learn a language and timing and motivation is pretty critical to your learning as well.




Most people would regard learning English as a romantic thing especially falling love with a favorable elegant lady or a intriguing gentleman. Well, that might exist somewhere in the world or in a film, a drama, but the harsh truth is to learn a language is a stringent course in case you like to master a language or be a fluent spearker in a frame of short time.

Dorothy, very wise you are indeed.


It seems to me there are two main aspects here:


1.  The phtsical condition that everyone faces.  It has been scientifically proved that children under 7 learn a language most easily, because of the physical state of the brain cells.  Everyone has to face this fact of daily decline thereafter.


2.  Life itself.  Some people gather wisdom while others do not.  Then there are one's circumstances: free time, finances, etc that translate into plus or minus factors.


Dorothy you are lucky and blessed that you have garnered a rich harvest from life.



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