Too old for languages?


Sweet Old Lady

It is a common belief that our ability to learn a language shrinks as we grow old. That’s not true, or at least not completely true. You can find the reasons why old people find it more difficult to learn a language and the solution to your problems.

Learning a language is possible at all ages. Children, and more specifically babies, seem to have a number of abilities to help them out learning a language. That is true, but partly true. What they have is an attitude.

You can learn about babies attitude reading this blog, but we’re now focusing on what the grown-ups do wrongly.

Human Brain

We end up talking about the brain once again, our dearest friend when it comes to learning languages. We used to believe that neurones were progressively dying and that we were becoming less smart as we grow old.

If that were true, it’d mean old people must be silly, which is not true. Reality is that human brain is a plastic organ that changes accordingly to our own needs. It is not yet clear whether new neurones are created, but everything points that they are being created throughout our lives.

But what matters here are the neurone connections, and those can be built through practice if we don’t stop working one same subject.

If we can create new brain systems… why is it we don’t learn?

The common excuse “I don’t learn because I’m too old” it’s actually old fashioned. I am very experienced teaching people much older than me, and my oldest student is a 84 year-old boy, nearly a baby, who learns fast and very well while he is enjoying the class. Yeah, only babies learn.

The biggest problem adults have when learning is that their brains do not like to change, because they’ve survived to an old age so their brains are used to doing things only one way.

The biggest problems adults have when learning is that they do not follow blind a teacher and they always try to question the content in their own languages.

The biggest problem adults have when learning a language is that they cannot understand the concept of not translating.

The biggest problem adults have when learning a language is that they have forgotten when they were younger!

You can

But adults can learn as if they were babies if they imitate kids following what babies are supposed to be doing.

I see all this in the class on daily basis, people who could do much better than what they’re doing without any significant effort, just by chaning their attitudes.

All the humble features that babies have are lost during teenage years, as we behave in a reproductive way. That’s okay, just change up your mind in the class and you’ll succeed!

Keep Thinking!



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  1. Thank you! I agree with you that the brain is always ready to learn languages. The “babies absorb languages” is first of all not true (babies fight learning a second language) and second, an excuse for laziness. Way to go!


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