We never tire of reminding ourselves of the importance of starting language learning at an early age because of the innate ability of the youngest to learn new things, absorb different sounds, phrases, intonation, pronunciation, with considerably less effort than an adult has to.
Numerous studies show that the ideal time to learn another language and acquire it natively is between the ages of 0 and 7. This means that as adults, we will have to make a “little” more effort than a 5 year old child, but it does not mean at all that it is impossible to learn a new language and acquire a high level of skill. In fact, an adult’s brain is actually much “better equipped” for language learning than a child’s, in many ways.
What are the benefits of learning language as an adult?
The advantages of learning another language are obvious, at any age. Here are three of them when learning a new language as an adult.
Adults have a higher range of vocabulary and a greater understanding of concepts than a child who has to wait several years before learning some words, simply because they are too young to understand the concepts, just as they do when they acquire their mother tongue.
This provides adults with the advantage of having advanced brain tools that allow them to understand and make grammatical abstractions such as verbal conjugations, homophonic words, genders, etc.
That is why adults can learn intermediate or advanced level vocabulary from the first moment they start studying a new language, because they already have those concepts in their heads, while children have to wait to reach the necessary mental maturity to learn them.
More learning opportunities at your fingertips
An adult can learn a new language in many different ways. A child will usually learn in a classroom, or from another adult who speaks to him or her in that language, but will not go on his or her own to find resources to keep moving forward.
An adult, having the motivation to learn and all their skills developed, can find opportunities to learn not only by attending class but also through books, magazines, movies in original version, language exchanges, trips abroad, specialized social networks, among other options.
Language learning slows down the aging process
Like many other parts of our body, the brain needs to be exercised to stay healthy and active. In particular, the parts of our brain that are actively used in the process of learning a new language increase in size and become more capable and more adaptable. This results in a strengthening of the neural networks that increase the plasticity of the brain and therefore help to slow down aging.
The mental exercise that requires the learning of a new language, has been the subject of several scientific studies that have discovered how it helps to improve cognitive abilities such as memory, which in turn may help prevent or delay the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Therefore, we can conclude that the benefits and advantages of learning a new language are present in all stages of life, and not only at an early age, but actually increase as our brains become more developed.