Learning a new language can be difficult, and it only gets more challenging with age. However, you’re never too old to learn, and the only thing between you and a habit of learning is the moment you get inspired to do it! Let’s see if we can nudge you into the habit with a little evidence.
Your Plastic Brain
Studies on brain plasticity go back decades, but it’s only recently that the scientific community has converged on consensus: your brain is not fixed. The new paradigm describes the brain as a constantly changing (and capable of being changed) control center for the body. Alterations occur whenever the brain makes new neural connections, i.e. when new stimuli are being presented or the mind is focused on different patterns of thought.
That’s good news for adults: it mean that your brain is equally capable of growing at any age despite the perceived difficulty for older people. Similar to the use-it-or-lose-it mantra, the more you practice learning new things the easier you’ll perceive all learning to be. (And did I mention, doing this could delay dementia?)
Tools That Make it Easier to Learn
Just because it’s possible to learn at any age doesn’t mean it’s easy. Thankfully there are more tools than ever to help you learn nearly any language.
If you haven’t started learning with Duolingo yet, then you’re missing out. They’ve recently added a number of great new features to their already fantastic language-learning platform. The two latest editions are bots and tinycards.
Bots allows you to practice your language skills in a natural way with an automated conversational bot: it’s like texting a native speaker that never gets frustrated.
Tinycards on the other hand, allow you to use digital flashcards and learn languages (or anything else really) in a more traditional fashion. It’s a bit more advanced than your average paper product though as it uses spaced reputation to find out exactly when you should be quizzed and on which cards. Give it a shot!
Language Enriches the Travel Experience
It’s not always necessary to learn a new language to travel, but those who do will get more out of their trip. Showing that you’ve learned, or even attempted to learn, a new language commands respect from locals. It can help build trust and allows you to communicate with people who may otherwise be too intimidated by language barriers.
The sooner you start learning a new language the sooner you’ll be able to access a deeper level of culture while traveling. As a bonus, while you practice your language skills abroad you’ll be able to strengthen those neural networks in your brain!