Hola y bienvenido! That’s Spanish for ‘Hello and welcome!’ And today, we want to welcome you to a whole new opportunity for fun, because language learning is made for older adults! Whether you’ve never picked up a foreign phrase book in your life, or your memories of 4th form French and Latin are better forgotten, there’s every reason in the world to give language learning a go, especially as it’s so easy to access, online. What’s more, research tells us learning a new language as an adult can be achieved to a high degree. So, to find out just how language learning can impact us positively as we age – read on!
Scheduling an online language lesson into our day is a great way to establish routine, and healthy routines help maintain our well-being. A short, regular period of focused language learning can become part of dividing up your day so it becomes more meaningful!
Online language learning is far from isolating. Not only will you be interacting with your tutors, but you’ll be connecting with other learners, often from around the world. Sharing learning experiences, and getting to know others is all part of the fun of inching your way forward with your new study.
We can all do with a boost to our confidence, especially when those with ageist views attempt to knock us back. With each little language learning gain acknowledged by your tutors and your online community, you’ll find the encouragement to keep on learning – and you’ll carry this confidence with you into other areas of your life. You’re language learning will open up new opportunities for confident conversation with friends and family.
Language learning online doesn’t have to end with a screen. Around the country, language exchange groups host meet-ups where learners can mix socially while they try out their new-found skills. There’s nothing like chatting to a native speaker to help tweak your pronunciation, especially when it’s over a coffee or relaxing drink!
There’s nothing like the excitement of gaining ground with a language to make you want to learn more about the cultures where it can be spoken. You don’t even need to travel (if it’s not your thing) to enjoy this, as there’s so much to explore on YouTube. Take a ‘slow journey’ around your chosen destination. If you listen carefully, you may even catch a few words you can recognise, or spot a sign or two you can read! For a real-life chance to learn more about life in countries that speak your new language, check out clubs around the country where people are just waiting to introduce you to what they know best!
If you’re a foodie, check out some international recipe sites that match your language, and try cooking up a new dish. For a fun challenge, try cooking from a recipe in your new language, rather than from one that is translated.
Travel is perhaps the ultimate way to enjoy using your language skills – and you don’t need to wait until you’re proficient to do it.
Just a few words will get you started, and you’ll be surprised at how much your attempts will be appreciated by locals. If you enjoy travel, consider learning a language spoken in several countries (Spanish, for instance, is spoken in twenty countries around the world, including popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Mexico, Chile and Argentina).
Language learning has so much to offer, and older learners have so much to gain from enjoying it. Whether you head into language learning on your own or with your partner or friends, Buena suerte! Good luck!
To get you started, check out the languages on offer at italki, a global language learning community that connects students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons.