Advice Column, Education, Fluent Panda, Parenting, Tween & Teen

Can Adults Learn an Additional Language?

  • Fluent Panda
  • Category Advice Column, Education, Fluent Panda, Parenting, Tween & Teen

We already know that learning anything is easiest as child. But does that mean it is impossible for adults? Of course not! It is never too late to start learning! Our biggest barriers at learning a language as an adult can be attributed to a number of factors – such as not enough time or feelings of shyness or embarrassment. As an adult – our main set back is that unlike a child – we now have to focus on learning and also have a number of adult thoughts and emotions that we want to express outright. However, these are mere mental blocks and with a little perseverance can be overcome!

How long does it take to learn an additional language?

This is a question we offer get – and the short and simple answer is that it is unanswerable! Learning a language is not something that can be quantified – even in your home language – most likely you learn something new about it each day. It is also not easy to say “how long will it take me to be conversational?” because these are all averages. It is also highly dependent on the target language – are there new alphabets and phonetics to learn before getting to learn the language itself? These all factor into the length of a language

When you see a course that says “it takes 2 months to complete this course and then you will be at X level” – what happens if you don’t pass? Then is it your own failure or the teacher’s failure? None. Learning something as fluid as a language is something that depends on you as an individual. If you study everyday and expose yourself to various other materials in your target language after your class lesson – naturally your ability will develop a lot quicker than if you only attend class and do not practice or expose yourself out of class – it is both the same amount of work – but your approach to it determines how you progress through the material. Unfortunately – language is a patient game. It is something that if you decide you want to become fluent in – you shouldn’t put a time limit on yourself – why make something long term pressured? 

The most important thing to define for yourself is what your goal in learning this language will be. Is it to advance in your career? Is it for immigration purposes? Do you want to just be conversational in another language? Once you clearly know what your goal is – set your sights and work towards it. Once achieved, it will be easier to decide if you are still interested in learning the language or actually you feel you have progressed enough and going any further will be unenjoyable. 

That sounds bleak – does that mean I shouldn’t learn another language if the road to fluency is rife?

Of course not! The joy of learning a language is exactly that! It’s that feeling of progression and the feeling of communication and the breakthroughs – it’s the thrill of hearing someone else say something in a different language and understanding them. This is what connects us. 

The most important thing when learning an additional language is to decide WHY you are learning that language. If you are learning due to a passion, a love, a goal, greater opportunities, immigration, a holiday – WHATEVER the reason – as long as there is a MOTIVATOR that is enough to learn a second language. 

Because the thing about languages – is that it requires determination. Your motivation will lead your determination. 

The main thing to remember when learning a language in adulthood – is that it is much like any skill you need to start from scratch – before you can make an omelette – you probably should learn how to cook an egg first – and build from there. Maybe you won’t be able to express your thoughts and feelings immediately – but if you can begin by introducing yourself and your name – you have a basis to build on. There also is something to be said that as wonderful as fluency is – is it what you need? Would you ever need engage at a fluent level? The main thing should be that you are ENJOYING learning the language and seeing your progression.

What is the best way to learn a new language?

There are many schools of thoughts and ways to argue this – but something that everyone can agree on is the best way to learn a new language is through IMMERSION. You need to IMMERSE yourself in the target languages language, culture, show, music, books, media, ANYTHING. Even if you don’t understand everything – the more exposure the better! It is always said that you will learn quicker if you move to the country where the target language is the main language. Why? Because this FORCES you to engage in that language. You can no longer rely on your experience or knowledge of your home language – you quite literally have to figure out how to communicate. And this is where linguistic breakthroughs happen. 

Naturally not everyone can up and leave to a country every time they want to learn a new language (though we wish we could!) so the most important thing is to try and expose yourself to as much of your target lesson as possible. Ask your teacher for exercises to do at home – or a recommended show – or a popular band. The most important thing is working on the language everyday – even if just for a couple of minutes. 

The good starting point for every language is to be sure you understand their reading and writing system so that you can start reading texts and understanding their phonetics as soon as possible. This may be difficult with languages like Mandarin, but practice those characters given in class everyday until they are stored in your bank of memories.

Where can I learn a new language?

In this respect – Fluent Panda is the way to go! We have over 32 languages to learn from and more importantly – we are invested in the language journey. We are interested in helping you reach your goals and setting up that foundation for lasting and meaningful fluency.

We understand that there is no way to quantifying how many lessons a course requires and thus we allow classes to develop and move organically. 

Furthermore, you get to connect with similarly levelled people with that you can practice speaking to rather than just one on one with the teacher. The teachers are all native speakers who are passionate about their language and the cultures associated with it and are happy to guide you and help you in your language learning journey! 

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