Monday, August 13, 2012

Are you too old to learn languages?

  The other day I saw a Finnish woman with a half-African son. The little boy spoke perfect Finnish, a lot better than me :D. It's still strange for me to see kids from other countries chatting in Finnish with their blond Finnish friends. When I, a Russian, speak to someone from, say, Turkey or Vietnam in Finnish, it feels really weird. :D This country is a mix.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was language learning. Some people think that languages should be learned in childhood, and if you didn't, then there is no hope for you. You are doomed to speak only your mother tongue forever. Is it true though? Are kids smarter than adults? Are their brains better wired for this? Do they study more diligently, not distracting themselves with playing? ;)

The reason why kids might learn languages faster when they have someone to practice with is... they don't care about making mistakes! Do kids always speak correctly even in their mother tongue? No. The same with foreign languages. They just actively use the language, no studying, no exams, no teachers or dreadful mistakes, just actual using. You won't go very far if all you do is study and tremble over your possible mistakes. Use your language! Go out there and use it. Speak with accent, use wrong words and grammar, natives will understand you.

I've been actively using English for years. No English native ever corrected my mistakes, they don't care, they just want to communicate. The only people who tell me about my mistakes in English are surprisingly Russians :D. Don't be afraid of speaking incorrectly. Maybe someone will smile or laugh at your cuteness, okay, but it's not the end of the world. It could actually make communication more fun! If I say “I don't knew about those book” don't you understand me anyway?

“I'm too old to learn languages” is just an excuse. Don't let it define your language learning future.

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  1. The other secret that children have: endlessly repeating/babbling the same word/construction over and over and over again. Adults should apply this with caution, though, and preferably when alone. Grin.

    チョコレートチョコレートチョコレートチョコレートチョコレートチョコレートチョコレートチョコレート 。。。

    1. Why am I not surprised with the word you chose? :D Sounds like mantra!

      I like to entertain my husband by repeating words I find in Finnish colloquial dictionary. Not all of them are what he can usually expect from me :D And also Japanese words of English origin, they still cutify us both.

      For example, to set a timer - タイマーをセットする (^.^)


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