4 Golden Rules for Learning a Language No Matter Your Age

Something that often keeps adults from picking up a new language is the belief that after a certain age learning a new tongue just isn’t possible. While your brain is indeed more elastic and receptive when you’re a child, the idea that language learning is only for youngsters is a myth. If you’re ready to break the mould and try your hand at French, or Japanese or any other language, you’ve come to the right place. Check out these golden rules for learning a new language no matter your age, and remember that at the end of the day age really is just a number!

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1. Set goals

It’s never a good idea to jump into language learning without having some sort of plan in place first. Setting goals can equate to language success, so it’s important for you to sit down at different points throughout the learning process to see if you’re keeping up with your checklists and to make new ones. Be careful about setting vague, overarching goals like ‘In 2 years I will be fluent in Spanish’. These can end up doing more harm than good, not because they aren’t realistic (it is, after all, possible to become fluent in some languages within a 2-year time period), but because they usually wind up making you feel intimidated or like a failure if you don’t accomplish them. Instead, stick to small, achievable goals like vowing to spend 15 minutes a day speaking in your target language, or learning 10 new vocabulary words per week.

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2. Know your learning style

Every language learner is different and the more aware you are of your own personal habits and tendencies, the more likely it is you’ll be able to stick with a new language for the long haul. Routine is important and it’s key that you take some time to figure out what exactly you want your language learning routine to be.  Some people function better in the mornings and thrive on doing cram sessions before heading off to work. Others are more capable of tuning out the world around them as they listen to podcasts or music in a foreign language. Some people are extroverts and love chatting up native speakers, while others are introverts and struggle to even start a simple conversation. Knowing when you’re at your best and when you need to take a step back are key parts of being a successful language learner. Seek out learning methods that make you feel safe and comfortable, while still managing to step outside your comfort zone a little.

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3. Track your progress

One way to know if your goals are reasonable and whether or not you’re in tune to your learning style is by keeping track of your language progress. Ask your tutor or instructor for a small progress report at the end of each month so you can see what you’re excelling at and where you need to improve. You can also track your progress using language apps that reward you for maintaining study streaks. While having to see where you’re falling short may seem unpleasant, it will definitely help you in the long run. Keeping steady track of your progress ensures that you don’t let vital parts of the learning process fall behind. Knowing that you’re doing well with reading and writing but struggling with speaking is the only way for you to pinpoint ways to fix the problem!

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4. Reward yourself

You may really enjoy language learning, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to always be a lot of fun. I enjoy going to the gym, but there are some days (especially in the winter) where it feels like a chore just to get there. It’s the same with language acquisition. You will have ups and downs, there’s simply no avoiding it, but one way to make the best of the lows is to help yourself feel valued and rewarded. Learning a new language is hard work and you should be proud of every single accomplishment, no matter how small! A great way to keep yourself motivated to stick with it, even on the bad days, is to find ways to reward yourself. A reward can be as simple as going out for ice-cream once a week after your language lesson, or buying yourself a gift as a prize for accomplishing your monthly goals. Treat yourself to keep yourself on track!

Are you learning a new language? Do you have any tips or tricks for learning no matter your age?

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