Too old to learn?
Carmen is a retired art teacher. She is 69 years old. She started learning English four years ago. “I wasn’t sure,” Carmen said. “Maybe I’m too old to learn a language.” But, in fact, she doesn’t have a problem. She is doing level 4 now and she gets good marks in her exams. So, how easy is it to learn a language when you are 69?
Scientists in the USA discovered that it is easier to learn a language before the age of 17. After 17, it is more difficult to learn the grammar of a new language.
Why is language learning more difficult for older learners? Some scientists think that there is a critical period for language learning. They think that we have a special mechanism in the brain that helps us to learn languages. After the age of 17 this mechanism stops working. But not all scientists agree.
The good news is that many older people have good study skills and they can learn a new language without a problem. Maybe they won’t learn to speak like a native, but they can learn to communicate effectively.
The message is clear: most people can learn a new language when they are 40, 50, 60 or 70!