Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Learning A New Language As An Adult

Kids learn like sponges. Those goofy dunderheads can stumble around through class in a Batman suit and soak up information by accident. It’s wonderful. And it’s called, mimetic learning.

The name almost takes the fun out of it, but it’s the reason why kids learn so darn fast. With the phrases they throw around sometimes, you’d almost think they’re walking around with a thesaurus in their pockets. But really, they heard someone say it once and probably thought repeating it could earn them a juice box.

Clearly, mimetic learning is a huge asset. And it’s why so many give up on learning new languages as adults, we fear we won’t get fluent.

But that’s false for two reasons.

Firstly, mimetic learning never leaves us. Grownups simply pick up another language more slowly because we don’t put in enough time. Kids aren’t necessarily quicker at learning, they just can’t click away Duolingo when they’re done, instead, they’re stuck in a world where everybody speaks a language they barely understand.

Secondly, there is not a single study that’s found that increased age slows down language acquisition. In fact, one study shows that adults might be in fact better at learning languages than children. Our younger counterparts tend to struggle more with the senseless rules of grammar.

So what’s really stopping adults from picking up a new language quickly?

Excuses, largely.

People often say that their environment is holding them back. “I’d easily pick up French if I lived in Paris.” But we all know that’s not true.

If you’ve ever spent any time in Amsterdam, you know how rare it is to find an expat who can actually speak Dutch. Even if they’ve been living there for years and years and years.

To pick up a language swiftly, you need to immerse yourself in it. Which you can just as easily do at home.

Simply take measures to hear, watch and read the language on a daily basis. And all you need for that is this dandy thing called, the internet. You may have heard of it.

So if you want to learn a language fast, save your money and excuses, and dunk yourself into it like a thirsty donut.

Find yourself a free resource, Duolingo is a great start. Find yourself a fun foreign show on Netflix. Change the language settings on your devices. Get a coach for speaking practice, check out italki for ridiculously low prices. And make yourself familiar with the different language levels so you know what to learn and avoid depending on your skill level.

Boa sorte.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach