Learning a language as an adult is not just possible but it can be fun too. It also gives us the opportunity to socializing with other people with similar interests while learning a very valuable skill.
Choosing the right learning environment is the first step. A friendly and informal atmosphere can help us to relax, thus reducing the anxiety that most adults feel when learning a language.
Courses offering content relevant to the specific needs of the learner with activities incorporating real life experiences will be enjoyable and appropriate. Ideally a course should be run by an inspiring tutor capable to advise participants on learning strategies tuned to the particular learner’ style. For example if an adult has a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, an experienced tutor will advise her/him to practise vocabulary while walking, exercising, dusting and so on.
But why should adults opt for learning to speak another language?
How often we hear friends saying “I wish I spoke the language” when returning from an enjoyable holiday abroad?
When travelling we sometimes find ourselves feeling uneasy when speaking to locals. This is because we rely upon the deep-rooted belief that everyone speaks English.
This misconception is not just confined to holidaymakers. In the business world, for example, as English is the international language of business, companies tend to believe that foreign language competency is not a business skill. They of course fail to understand that the globalisation of the markets is favouring their International counterparts who are reducing the competitive edge that English has enjoyed for years.
There is a widespread belief among adults that the best time for language learning is childhood as the ability to learn decreases as we get older.
Although “the younger the better” holds some truth, recent research shows that there is little decline in the ability to learn a language as age progresses.
Dr Iverson, of the UCL Centre for Human Communication in 2005 reported that the difficulties we experience in language learning in later life are not biological, as the brain, given the right stimulus, can be retrained to pick up foreign sounds more easily again.
Misconception about age is not the only factor preventing adults taking up a language course.
Past unsuccessful attempts at school may wrongly shape our attitude towards language learning and make adults reluctant to try again.
Unpleasant learning experiences can lead us to believe we are not good at languages. The truth is that failure often lies with uninspiring and ineffective teaching rather than lack of talent.
Learning a language as an adult can be a highly rewarding experience and a very enjoyable one too.
Angela Letizia-Downes is the co-founder of Mosaic Languages Ltd.
020 8542 2710