Never too Old to Learn

person-woman-desk-laptop-largeIs there an age limit for learning new languages? Answer: Of course there isn’t! To even ask that is about the same as asking someone whether or not he or she is too old to learn to peel an orange! You’re never too old to learn a few more languages! Or at least a few more sentences! And if for no other reason than just to brighten your – or someone else’s – day!

Here is how that age old wisdom would look like in these languages:

Live and learn(Eng) Oppia ikä kaikki(Fin) Man lär så länge man lever/Den som lever får se(Swe) Lifa og læra(Ice) Man lernt nie aus(Ger) Vis et aprend(Fra) Você vive e aprende(Por) Vive e Aprende(Spa) Vivere e imparare(Ita) Vivere et discire(Lat) Μαθαίνει κανένας όσο ζεί(Gre) Век живи, век учись(Rus) Kuishi na kujifunza(Swa) Seikatsu shi, manabimasu(Jpn) =生活し、学びます

No, you’re never too old, and never too young either! Any age goes – even if as a child you may want to learn to master that one language before taking on another. Or do you? Bilingualism is a pretty common thing in the world!

Anyway, age really is no barrier, and a senior citizen should have ample time to study an extra language, right? Wrong! Just like at any other time in one’s life, time is a commodity fought over by so many different interests that it always boils down to individual choices. So, do you – or do you not – want to order that cup of coffee in lingua regionis? :)

10 thoughts on “Never too Old to Learn

  1. Thank you for your comment, Sinikka! If anyone was wondering, that was Finnish, and she was saying that this was a nice way to study. Nice that you think so since this is exactly what I aim for here – kiva, että olet sitä mieltä, sillä siihen juuri pyrin täällä! Come again, and read and study some more! :)

  2. This is interesting. I remember when I had to take Spanish in middle and high school. I was never very good at it, I guess I didn’t give it a fair chance.
    It might be worth putting this in my list of goals for life: To learn a new language. It might sound weird but it has always angered me when I couldn’t understand people speaking near me because it wasn’t English haha

    1. Hi Gina, and thanks for your comments! Yes, it is always good to know another language. Here in Europe where I live, it’s just so common to know at least two that we find it very odd that so many Americans just know English which they anyway get to hear everywhere. :)

  3. Hi, Tarja! I can really relate to what you said, as I was born a Malaysian and had been educated to speak and converse in a minimum of 3 languages since I was born. In fact, I can understand 6 languages in total today! Can you believe how amazing our human brain is? Food for thought, do you have any recommendations to learn languages that are spoken verbally only (i.e dialects)? I find it quite hard to learn a language where I can’t even pick up new vocab from a dictionary~

    1. Hi Christopher, and thank you for your comment! Yes, the human brain is really quite amazing! But to answer your question about dialects: we are visual beings. I also find it quite hard to learn a language if I don’t have at least something with black on white to look at. Hearing is only part of the learning process. Most people want and need both the visual and audio to be able to start forming foreign sentences – and rely that they will be understood. Without dictionaries and textbooks it is very much like learning like a toddler, totally depending on what you hear and what you are shown visually. It takes a keen ear to be able to do that, and good memory! And it helps of course if there is something familiar in the dialect. Good luck with that!

    1. Hi there Eileen, and thank you for those kind words! Although this website is only beginning to form, I do have great plans for it! One step at a time – and sometimes two…
      Cheers,
      Tarja

  4. Hi there!
    Very interesting post on never being too old to learn a new language. You are so talented!
    I do teach Swahili myself but I currently have taken a big break. I always feel so delighted when my students start grasping concepts in the language and make progress in applying it.
    May i ask iflearning a language entirely depends on talent? Is it a trait in some people but not in others?

    1. Hi, and thank you for your kind comment! I do believe that learning languages comes easier for others. And I don’t think it’s about being either mathematically inclined or have an ease for languages. I think it’s both and! Also, if you’re into music, that too helps learning languages – and especially learning to speak them – if you take it the audio way, listening to the rhythm of a language, and imitating. The lower your threshold is to learn, the faster you learn – that’s one reason why little kids learn so fast! They have no threshold! I also think that the school institute destroys a lot of the learning ability of young people. We should learn to speak first, and then look at the grammar. It shouldn’t matter what mumbo jumbo you let out of your mouth at first, for it will all be clear as you proceed.

      You said you teach Swahili. How interesting is that! You know, when I was applying to the Helsinki University to study Nordic languages, they tested our linguistic talent by introducing us to Swahili! We had to find the correct words by comparing a few sentences that would give clues – a very challenging test! Well, I passed, and I promised myself that I would one day speak simple Swahili with someone :)

      Tarja

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