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At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?

The decline in language learning

There are three possible reasons why the ability to learn a language decreases at 18.

  • Social changes: At 18, late teens typically graduate high school and may no longer have the time, opportunity or learning environment to study a second language.
  • Interference: The rules of a first language may interfere with the ability to learn a second language.
  • Continuing brain development: Changes in the brain that continue during the late teens and early 20s may make learning harder.

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At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?

At What Age Does Our Ability to Learn a New Language Like a Native Speaker Disappear?

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/at-what-age-does-our-ability-to-learn-a-new-language-like-a-native-speaker-disappear/

scientificamerican.com

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Key Ideas

Learning a second language

Research shows that children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly ten years later than earlier estimates. It also shows that it is best to start another language by age ten if you want to achieve the grammatical ability of a native speaker.

The decline in language learning

There are three possible reasons why the ability to learn a language decreases at 18.

  • Social changes: At 18, late teens typically graduate high school and may no longer have the time, opportunity or learning environment to study a second language.
  • Interference: The rules of a first language may interfere with the ability to learn a second language.
  • Continuing brain development: Changes in the brain that continue during the late teens and early 20s may make learning harder.

Learning a new language

There are many examples of people who pick up a language later in life. Our ability to learn new vocabulary appears to remain constant, but most of us will not be able to master grammar like a native speaker.

Learning through immersion

Research shows that people who learn via immersion are notably more fluent in a foreign language than those who are learning it in a class. If you have the choice between starting language lessons earlier or learning through immersion later, an immersion environment seems to be better.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Best Strategy

  • Go to a country that speaks the language.
  • Get a phrasebook and learn a few basic expressions.
  • Commit to only speaking in that language from Day One.
  • Use a ...
  • If You Can’t Travel to Learn

    Pick a friend who also wants to learn the language. Agree to talk in the target language at least once per day or whenever you do talk.

    The friend does not have to be a native speaker. Whenever you are stuck, use a dictionary or Google translate. But, 10% of your time should be speaking with an advanced or native speaker.

    You Can’t Find a Partner

    If you cannot find someone willing to commit to only speaking that language, hire a tutor.

    You can also opt for language exchange with people who want to learn your language.

    5 more ideas

    First words to learn

    In English, just 300 words make up 65% of all written material. We use those words a lot, and that’s the case in every other language as well.

    Use flash cards of the mo...

    Learn cognates

    Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

    For instance:

    •  Words like Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation. Change that -tion to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.
    • Many languages also have words that share a common (Greek/Latin or other) root.
    • Even languages as different as Japanese can have heaps of very familiar vocabulary. 

    Interact in your language daily

    • To hear the language consistently spoken, you can check out TuneIn.com for a vast selection of live-streamed radio from your country of choice. 
    • To watch the language consistently, see what’s trending on Youtube in that country right now. 
    • To read the language consistently, you can find cool blogs and other popular sites on Alexa’s ranking of top sites per country.

    9 more ideas

    Learning A New Language Fast

    Though it may not seem plausible, basic communication of a new foreign language can be mastered in weeks. Learning a non-native language can be sped up by compiling a script for responding to quer...

    Learning Full Speed

    A will to start and self-confidence is necessary as is having the courage to speak, and not being afraid of making mistakes. The key is to immerse yourself and put your whole being to the task.

    Total immersion necessitates activities like listening to the radio station of the language you are learning, reading and speaking to people.

    Total Immersion

    It is a good idea to master the basic skills first and focus on the grammar later, while asking for feedback and correcting yourself, learning on-the-fly.

    Invest not only your head but your heart in the learning process. Practice makes perfect.