Countless individuals wish to be able to speak more than one language, and if you’re lucky you may even be able to speak multiple. Learning a new language is an extremely impressive feat, one that often requires a great deal of time, dedication, and hard work.

There are several ways in which to go about learning a new language. One of the largest factors regarding learning a new language relates to one’s age. While this may not seem as if it makes that large of a difference, one’s age can vastly impact how your brain processes and retains a new language.

Learning a new language as an adult, when compared to learning a new language as a kid, presents itself in a whole new manner. Keep reading in order to learn more about these differences, as well to learn about

  • Benefits to learning a new language
  • Strategies to learn a new language

Learning a New Language

As touched on previously, learning a new language is a difficult task. Knowing how this task differs as an adult versus a kid, is an important fact to consider in best developing a plan to learn your language of choice.

As a Kid

A kid smiling in front of a chalkboard in which “Hello” is written in multiple different languages.
Learning a new language as a kid greatly differs from learning a new language as an adult. Image courtesy of LifeHack.

Learning a new language as a kid primarily revolves around the idea of construction of networks in the brain. The construction of these networks are new as a child does not have previously existing networks yet, therefore allowing a more natural adaptation to the language.

Additionally, kids often utilize unconscious learning when processing a new language much more than adults do. For instance, kids have a much greater likelihood of unconsciously picking up aspects of a new language through passive exposure. Because of this, by nature they pick up on mannerisms, rules, etc. of new languages.

As an Adult

Learning a new language as an adult, in contrast with learning a new language as a kid, consists of altering previously constructed language networks. Therefore, the existing networks often present a challenge when attempting to form new, sometimes competing, networks.

As an adult, when learning a new language we often tap into the conscious aspect of our learning. This means we are aware of what we are learning while we are learning it. This most heavily comes into play when actively studying a new language.

As adults, we are often not organically exposed to a new language when trying to learn it. Rather, we are actively putting in time set aside to learn the new language, its grammar, mannerisms, etc. This type of conscious learning often has an impact on how effectively we can learn a new language.

So, Which One is Easier?

When comparing learning a new language as an adult versus learning a new language as a kid, the one question that usually comes to peoples’ mind is: Which is easier?

All research points to it being significantly easier to learn a new language as a kid because of the unconscious learning that occurs. However, it is still very possible to fluently and efficiently learn a new language as an adult. It simply just requires more determination and motivation on your part.

While it may take more effort to learn a new language as an adult, in many ways it is very much worth the hassle in order to achieve the benefits.

Benefits of Learning a New Language

A beautiful view of a village next to a body of water and hilltops.
Learning a new language has many benefits, and one of the largest is its ability to improve the experience of international travel. Image courtesy of StudentUniverse.

As discussed, it is significantly more difficult to learn a new language as an adult. However, that does not mean that it is not extremely beneficial. In fact, the benefits of learning a new language are so vast that doing so is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself, both personally and professionally. Let’s talk about this in greater depth.

Increase Your Job Desirability

Learning a new language, one in which you are fluent in and understand the grammar rules, can greatly increase your number of job prospects. For instance, you are no longer confined to just your home country. You can possibly work as an expatriate in the country in which you are fluent in their language.

In addition, not only does knowing more than one language increase the number of jobs you can get, it also increases your desirability to companies. In other words, you are more likely to stand out amongst a group of applicants when you can fluently speak another language. It can also be a great bargaining chip when negotiating for a higher salary.

Improve Cognitive Functions

Another benefit in learning a new language is the ability of the process to improve cognitive functions such as your:

  • Memory
  • Comprehension of languages previously spoken
  • Multitasking skills
  • Academic skills and application

Make International Travel Easier and More Enjoyable

One of the most desirable benefits of learning a new language is its propensity to make travel significantly more enjoyable. When learning a new language, you often learn more than just the words and grammar of that language. Oftentimes, you also make a conscious effort to learn about the culture of that language and its origin country.

Therefore, when you decide to travel to that country then you are getting a better experience because you can immerse yourself in the language and culture you learned. You’ll be able to better communicate with the local citizens and show respect for their traditions.

Form Unexpected Connections

Learning a new language can also improve the possibility of forming unexpected connections. For instance, while internationally traveling you may meet someone that due to a language barrier, you may never have gotten to know previously. However, knowing the same language can allow the two of you to speak and construct a genuine connection.

Strategies to Best Learn a New Language as an Adult

A woman studying from a notebook.
There are several tactics you can use when learning a new language as an adult. Image courtesy of BestColleges.

In order to best learn a new language as an adult, there are a number of strategies available for you to employ. Let’s talk about some of these.

Language Phone Apps and Online Programs

There are a large number of phone apps and online programs that can assist you in learning your new language of choice. These language learning apps and online programs have a number of useful features that allow you to study vocabulary, grammar rules, stylistic choices, cultural norms, etc.

Immersing Yourself in the Language

One of the best ways to learn a new language as an adult is to immerse yourself in that language. In other words, it is important to get as much exposure to the language as possible. Some activities to do so include:

  • Read books in the language in which you are trying to learn
  • Watch movies and TV shows in your language of choice
  • Listen to podcasts teaching the language you are trying to learn/listen to podcasts that are simply in the language

Practice Makes Perfect

The secret to mastering a new language as an adult is as simple as practicing the language whenever possible. For instance, a great way to do this is to learn a new language alongside a friend of yours. That way the two of you can go back and forth in practicing having conversations in that language.

Another great way to practice is by joining a language-learning group. This way you have a large amount of people you can practice your new skills with. Additionally, this is a great way to meet new people with similar interests as you.

Learning a New Language as An Adult is Difficult, But Worth It

As already noted, learning a new language as an adult differs from learning a new language as a kid simply because of brain networks. However, you should not let this deter you from taking on a new language as an adult.

We have talked about the several benefits that come from knowing more than one language, and that is reason enough to give a second language a try. In learning this new language don’t forget to use our strategies, practice tons, and track your progress over time. Happy learning!

Dec 7, 2022