With our world becoming increasingly more globalized, learning languages is at the forefront of many people's minds. What's the best language to learn? What are the best resources to use for language learning? Which foreign language is the easiest? These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions! However, today, we'll answer the age-old question: Do kids learn languages faster than adults?
Plenty of adults believe that children learn languages faster, but is it actually true? If not, where did this idea start? But, if it is, what are the most effective ways for adults to learn new languages? Ling is here to weigh in!
In short, if you're wondering who can learn a language faster, kids or adults, the answer is indeed kids.
It all has to do with inhibitory neurons, a fancy name for a type of cell in the brain's cortical network that helps regulate neural connections. Basically, they are key in deciding whether to rewire the brain in response to experience.
Since kids don't have much experience, these cells are more likely to recognize everything as new and allow rewiring. It's said that the best time for children's language development is between the ages of 7-10. This time in a child's life where the brain is particularly prone to plasticity and more likely to rewire is known as the critical period. However, as we get older and gain more experience, these cells become more sensitive and are less likely to rewire.
So, yes, children learn foreign languages faster than adults. However, it's important to distinguish between faster and better.
If you're interested in reading more about how our brains learn languages, you can always check out neurological studies and the most recent language data!
Studies have shown that adults learn languages better while young kids learn languages faster.
For instance, comparing how children and adults learn a foreign language, children typically learn kinesthetically (tactical, hands-on learning). In contrast, adults tend to learn through traditional instruction (ex. repetition, grammar rules, sentence structure, etc.). Even though the children and adults are being taught the same language, in the end, the children's language knowledge won't be as accurate as of the adults' language knowledge.
So, if you're ever feeling discouraged about learning a new language, remember that the learning process in adult brains is entirely different than how children understand languages. Faster doesn't necessarily mean better!
Now that you've got your answer to this fundamental question, it's time to talk about the most effective ways that you can learn additional languages as an adult.
This is #1 for a reason. Believing in yourself should be the first step in everything you do! Regardless of your age, you won't succeed if you don't believe in yourself. So, do what you can to make yourself believe that you can achieve anything. If you like hard facts and data, read studies about how the adult brain works when learning new things or read about the advantages of learning a new language as an adult.
We want you to do whatever will make you believe that you can become fluent in a new language even if you're 50 years old! Your motivation level and progress all have to do with how much you believe in yourself.
As an adult learning a new language, you need to immerse yourself into that language as much as you can.
Put on a podcast in your target language to listen to as you're getting ready in the morning or commuting to or from work. You can even wind down in the evening by watching a movie in that language. Watching movies is a great way to learn because you are not only listening to how the language sounds from native speakers, but if you're using subtitles, your brain is actively linking words from your native language and target language together.
There are tons of ways to integrate a new language into your life, and don't forget to be creative!
This is important! While sitting at home watching movies can still be great practice, having conversations with others will push you from an intermediate to an advanced learner.
Nowadays, with all kinds of technology making its way into our lives, you can connect with anyone, no matter where they live. Find a community, and check out platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, where people talk in the target language. Once you join the community, you can rely on them for support if you have any questions or face challenges when learning the language.
Practice makes perfect, right? For language learning, this is true. Your language skills can only advance so far without adequate practice. It's also important that you get a good amount of practice every day. 5 minutes per day probably won't make you fluent, but 30 minutes up to 1 hour per day should be doable and just the right amount of time to allow you to retain the information.
In addition to finding a community to practice with, like we just mentioned in #3, don't be afraid to practice by yourself! Make flashcards to quiz yourself every night before bed or pause the movie so that you can practice the main character's line. Again, be creative! You can practice anytime, anywhere.
You can't learn all alone! Your best friend in this language learning process should be an external resource, whether a textbook, language application, e-books, or something else.
What's important here is that you pick a resource that will best fit your lifestyle and learning style. For instance, if you live a hectic, on-the-go life, you probably won't want to carry a heavy textbook with you. In this case, you might want to consider a language application that you can easily download on your phone. But, if you work from home, then a textbook might be perfect for you.
Regarding what kind of learner you are, there are thousands of online quizzes to help you figure that out.
Once you find your perfect resource, you'll be ready to start learning!
No matter what your native language is, Ling can help you learn and master a new language at your own pace! This language learning app offers comprehensive lessons in over 60 languages, from Spanish and Chinese to Afrikaans and Thai. Chances are, if you have a foreign language you want to learn, Ling has it.
The app features digestible lessons for all language learners, no matter your language skill level, easy exercises to practice writing correctly, audio recordings from a native language speaker, and quizzes to track your progress. But, our favorite feature has to be the interactive AI chatbot that gives you immediate feedback on your usage of learned words and expressions.
In terms of the actual application, you can download it for iOS, Android, and desktop devices. This means that you don't have to change your device to use the app. Instead, the app is here for you! Now, that's what we call flexible! Not to mention, the app is easy to navigate, runs smoothly, and has excellent audio quality.
Learn a second language or multiple languages with Ling, the most effective language application out there! Download it now!