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jeanie
older language learners just wondering how many people have started to learn a new language at an older age?  Say over 60 approx.    Do you feel like you are able to learn as well as you did in your younger years?   How much time do you spend daily studying and  what do you feel about your progress?   What is your motivation for learning a new language?    I would love to hear from some older folks about their experiences!  Jean
Sep 24, 2016 11:32 PM
Comments · 18

Hi!
I'm not over 60, but I am approaching 50, I've just started Russian, and I don't think my mental faculties had diminished significantly, although I have accumulated over the years a long list of useless and counterproductive mental habits that interfere with my learning more than my "loss in mental capacity."

I have literally spent one day studying and I have had 30 minutes of painful beginner's conversational practice, so I cannot comment on the time I will be spending in the future.

The motivation? I love languages as much as I fear making a fool of myself speaking really badly, but I have to try. There are people much older than me who are learning languages at a remarkable pace, and the trick is motivation, willingness to learn and spending time.
My advice? Jump with your eyes closed and force yourself NOT to use English (or whatever your native language is) at any point, no matter what, and allow yourself to painfully struggle and to make mistakes - your brain will notice that you have a real need to learn this language, and you'll assimilate it without even realising.

Or so I hope. ;)

September 24, 2016

Hi Jean, what a great, great topic !!!

I am not over 60. However, just 4 years ago, I sort of started wondering if I was too old to learn a language !! That is simply because everybody seeems to think that languages should be learned if you are young and so on.

Thankfully, I came back to my senses and went back to learning languages, which I love doing. :-)


I am also an online tutor and I get quite a few people over 60 as students, especially for Italian.


My over 60 students are usually much better than my students in their twenties.


*They are not scared of working a little every day. That is the key to learning a language. They are more disciplined.


*They are not in a hurry. A year, doesn't seem like forever when you are over 60. My students in their twenties get easily discouraged by the idea of having to work on something for any amount of time, because it seems like forever to them ! :-)

*Hindsight and wider knowledge helps put all the new information in a clearer context.


*The interest in the culture of the language keeps them motivated for the long haul and so, able to get results.Curiosity is so important !

What are they weaker at ?

Maybe learning new sounds and accents. That has more to do with their sense  of identity than their actual capacities though.I read an article that said that our accents when learning a foreign language, are affected by how much we feel we belong to the culture of the target language. Basically, if our sense of belonging to our own culture is strong, then we will struggle more in adapting to new sounds.


But with my students,these are things that have been worked around.

You must check out Steve Kaufmann ! So inspiring.

Anyway, as Susan said, just enjoy the process and the rest will take care of itself !


September 25, 2016
I'm not around 60 years old, but you should look up Steve Kaufmann on YouTube, he's about 70 years old and a polyglot! (He also runs a site called LingQ.) He said most of the languages he's learned where later on in life. I think the main reason someone is able to learn a language is from their own motivation.
September 24, 2016
I'm 54, and just started learning Korean. I learned 5 languages to upper intermediate levels in my 40's, and I don't expect there to be anything to stop me from continuing. In fact, because I know well what works for me now, I expect Korean to go faster than if I had started at a younger age. 
September 26, 2016

“...just wondering how many people have started to learn a new language at an older age?  Say over 60 approx.

I grew up in a multi - ethnic neighborhood so I was familiar with common phrases in several languages, but I didn't get serious about language learning until I was about 60

.Do you feel like you are able to learn as well as you did in your younger years?  

Most certainly, with the advantage of hindsight and graduate level matriculation, I' ve become a better student.

How much time do you spend daily studying and  what do you feel about your progress?  

3 - 4 hours per day, and progress is slow, but steady.

What is your motivation for learning a new language?   

I love to learn and I have an interest in the culture of the language that I am learning.

I would love to hear from some older folks about their experiences! "

I don't consider myself "older" but better.

September 25, 2016
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jeanie
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language
Spanish