What helps an adult learn a foreign language?
What helps an adult learn a foreign language?

What helps an adult learn a foreign language?


“Well, everything, from Monday I pull myself together and sign up for language courses! These seem to be quite good... But after all, so many years have passed since graduation, and at the university all we did was translate thousands with a dictionary. Maybe the moment is completely lost? If you listen to the current experts, you should start like this almost from infancy, then it will be too late. Can I or can't I?" Admit it, did you catch yourself thinking like that?

Many educators working with adult learners face a motivation problem based on the fear of repeating past failures and missed opportunities. Linguistic scholars and part-time English teachers Richard Roberts and Roger Creutz wrote a book “Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Languages”to dispel your doubts. They compared how adults and school-age children learn foreign languages ​​and identified several important differences. Here are 4 benefits of adult learners that will give you back your confidence:

  1. Do you know how language works in general?: what functions words have, how they logically line up in a sentence, and why this or that phenomenon is needed. A schoolboy who recently went through the parts of speech in the Russian language lessons still has a very vague idea of ​​​​how the verb and adverb are connected, and why prepositions are needed. You see the logical connection and understand what principles it is based on, which means you save time and make fewer mistakes.
  2. You understand that a language is not just a collection of words, but a whole system with complex connections of elements, and for each language this system is unique. Children are often discouraged by the fact that in the language they are learning there may not be an equivalent for a word, and what they are used to expressing in one way, a foreigner will express ten (oh, what a long time it took to explain to a group of young anime lovers that adjectives in Japanese are also are in the past tense!). The consciousness of an adult is quite ready to perceive the complete absence of cases - or vice versa, their huge number, which again reduces the time of study.
  3. You realize that words and their meanings are not everything. “Won't it sound too emotional / official / rude if I say ...” - you will only hear this from an adult student. A child (even of senior school age) will not always think about the fact that a phrase that is neutral for a Russian-speaking person will be offensive to a foreigner. An adult knows that of the two synonyms, one is suitable for business communication, and the second is only for a friendly conversation. And an adult understands irony, metaphors, idioms much better - everything that makes our speech expressive, lively. He is ready to teach and actively apply them in practice.
  4. You are good at planning. Unlike a child who simply follows the teacher's instructions, an adult has a clear idea of ​​the intermediate result. When you open a section of a textbook devoted, for example, to emotions, you can easily imagine how, after finishing it, you will be able to name the main shades of your mood and describe the situations that provoked them. Having received the result, you can evaluate your successes and weaknesses - for example, you understand that grammar was easy for you, but to learn words you should use a different technique. Unlike a child, you are able at every stage of learning to give the teacher detailed feedback, which helps him make classes more effective.

So, life experience and developed logical thinking are assistants, relying on which you will make the learning process fast and effective. And we will explain how to apply them in practice in learning English. Stay with us!


Anna Menshikova
English teacher at Global Ambassador

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