Language Advantage
February 10, 2020

Language Learning for Adults: 5 Strategies to Make It Easier

Have you ever wondered if you can learn and become fluent in another language as an adult?

A common misconception is that only kids can master a second language. But recent research shows that language learning for adults can have positive results – in fact, achieving command of another tongue is possible at any age.

The five tips for adult language learners below can help take you far.

Research on Learning a Foreign Language in Adulthood

While many people assume it’s almost impossible to excel in a second language after 10 years of age, that isn’t true, explains The Conversation. Instead, adult learners can grasp vocabulary just as well as adult language learners.

With that said, adults can make some grammatical errors with foreign languages; the key word here is “some,” not all. That’s because certain structures are harder for older students to grasp than those who learn the same language as children, explains The Conversation.

For instance, an adult is more likely to struggle with how to correctly conjugate a verb following different pronouns than someone of a younger age. With that said, adults still can grasp vocabulary as well as youth; it’s simply a difference in grammatical accuracy.

Tips for Language Learning for Adults

Given the findings noted above, older learners can benefit from using one or more of the following suggestions:

1.      Understand Patterns

Look through books on grammar as you learn the second language. It’s possible to overcome challenges of mastering grammar by delving into the rules of your target language right from the start.

After looking at structure, you will begin to see patterns. By understanding the logic behind the grammatic rules, conjugating verbs can become easier.

Read or listen to a sentence and then replace words with new ones following the same structure. This exercise is a good way to practice the core grammatical principles of the language and satisfy curiosity in language learning for adults.

2.      Schedule Your Practice Time

Schedule your second language practice into each week, just as you would a business meeting. By giving it a slot in your schedule, you’re more likely to stick with the regular practice sessions.

The key here is to treat the hour of practice as important as you would an appointment. Don’t drop it from the schedule if it seems like a busy day; keep that training time going to help strengthen your comprehension of the second language.

3.      Take Stock of Your Progress

Look at where you are, where you started, and where you want to get to when language learning for adults. There are many benefits of doing so, including realizing how to most effectively spend your time to meet your language goal and planning strategically how to get there.

Furthermore, seeing how far you’ve come in reading, speaking, listening and writing will encourage you to keep going forward. Reward yourself for progress made, as well, to self-motivate; for example, lunch out with a friend is a fun treat.

4.      Language Learning for Adults: Deal with Setbacks

Don’t let obstacles prevent you from advancing. Language learning for adults can be frustrating as older learners typically have less time to devote to mastering a second language than kids. Thus, it makes sense that youngsters who put in more study time have better proficiency than those double their age or older.

But don’t let a busy schedule or mistakes in grammar keep you from carrying on with your goal. Instead, follow #2 on this list to stay on a steady practice routine and be gentle to yourself if you mix up a foreign phrase.

Focus on the positive in a mistake; it is a learning experience rather than a failure. See the purpose in an error and note that it is part of the plan to meet your objective to communicate with ease in a foreign tongue.

5.      Optimize Your Learning Style

A learning style is how you take in information most effectively. Thus, knowing your style is important to making those foreign words stick in your mind.

For example, you might be a visual learner who needs to see things to remember them. As for auditory learners, they do best by hearing the words, and reading/writing learners are those who take notes to absorb information.

The final type is kinesthetic; these learners prefer hands-on experiences. Role-playing a conversation in the target language would be helpful for an adult student who has this learning style.

Final Words on Language Learning for Adults

Language is a topic that continues to excite researchers and readers alike. We look forward to learning what research teams find in the future about second language acquisition and how this knowledge can further improve practice sessions of older learners.

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