Last time, I talked about some of the reasons to be optimistic about learning English as an adult. We sometimes think that it’s easier for younger people, but in fact their main advantage is being at school, while we adults have jobs and families that take up our time.
It’s true that some of our cognitive abilities decline as we get older, but research suggests that we do have advantages over our younger classmates.
A study by the Barcelona Universitat Pompeu Fabra indicates that older adults have a larger vocabulary than younger people, which predicts a larger vocabulary in the second language.
Another study found that older adults make better use than youngsters of their semantic memory (the part of the brain that involves the capacity to remember words, concepts and numbers), so while the kids might be quicker, we remember better!
Additionally, learning a language keeps your brain active. Researchers at Edinburgh University found that older people who were bilingual delayed the onset of Alzheimers, compared to monolingual people.
We always complain about young people always being on their phones or computers, but maybe we can beat them at their own game: by using technology to help us with our learning.
DuoLingo uses a game-style approach to keep you learning, but there are plenty of other games and apps that would count towards your 15 minutes of English per day. Word searches, crosswords, word association games and spelling games help with vocabulary. You can use chatbots to practise conversations.
There are even games for learning phrasal verbs!
Of course, the best thing you can do is come and visit us at ECS Scotland for an intensive course, but until then, remember that older usually means wiser, and we can learn just as well as youngsters can!
Get in touch with your own ideas and experiences - we love to hear from you!
Senior Teacher at ECS Scotland