You’ve probably seen bilingual or multilingual children and thought, “Wow! They’re like little sponges with languages!” It’s true that children may have an easier time with some linguistic components, but adults can be just as successful. It’s never too late to start learning. There was a time when researchers thought that only children can pick up multiple languages, but that’s since been disproven.
In fact, there are certain benefits that adults have while learning a new language that children don’t! We’ll show you just how you can start learning Spanish. It’s not too late for you, or anyone!
Myth: only kids can learn a new language
Not only is it not true that only kids can learn a new language, there are even aspects that are easier for adults. Penn State researchers compared 6 different components of language acquisition and found that overall, adults can be just as successful as children. Yes, some aspects may be more challenging for an adult than a child, such as acquiring a specific accent, but adults are much better at learning pragmatics or meaning in social interactions. In general, it events out and adults and kids can both be successful.
In addition, many individual aspects are the same for children and adults, like learning vocabulary and grammar, and even effects on the brain. The so-called “critical period” of language learning proved to not be true, since adults’ brains are just as easy to adapt to new languages.
What might look a little different is the way children and adults learn. Both need context in order to thrive, but children play while adults have social conversations. Children tend to learn easier in informal settings, while many adults thrive in classrooms or even learning Spanish at home.
It’s never too late to learn
At the end of the day, it’s important to know that what you may have been told regarding adults’ abilities to learn a language are probably false. Brain science has come very far, and so have studies in second language acquisition. The tools are out there for you to learn Spanish like you’ve always dreamed of, so you can travel the world and experience new cultures.