As Director of The Language Learning Institute and a teacher of French, I am often told by adult learners, “I would love to learn another language, but I am too old. I don’t think I can do this.” These declarations come from people who speak English beautifully!
I have always been of the opinion that age is a state of mind and that we truly can learn at any age. Now, more than ever, research is showing that this is true.
Our brain has a mechanism built into it that enables us to acquire and maintain language. We are born with this mechanism, and we die with it. Research has shown that this mechanism does not change as we go through life.
We are sent many messages through verbal and non-verbal cues that tell us we “can’t do something.” For most of us, these messages have more to do with “not being able” to do that task than our brain power.
When we study a new language, we create pathways in the brain. We do a sort of “brain gymnastics” that keeps our thoughts moving and focused, our nervous systems alive and well, and our brains healthy.
“Am I Too Old to Learn a Second Language?” is a wonderful article by Doug Bower that debunks the myth of age and our supposed inability to learn a new language.