Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Why and how adults can learn languages better than kids

 Why Adults are Better Language Learners than Children

Adults often mention the misconception that language learning is easier for children and 

younger adults than it is for more mature individuals. The logic probably flows from the 

idea that (1) because children at a very young age learn a language almost by osmosis, 

that (2) it is best to learn a language when you are very young. 

It is a great idea and we are fascinated when children speak their first words and 

the miracle feeling that comes from the magical progression, but this concept is a myth. 

Adults can learn languages easier than children. There I said it. Think of the facts. 

Children spend how many years learning to talk like a five-year old? 

How long will it take it take an adult to learn the same level of proficiency in a language? 

Fortunately for adults, the answer is that they will learn it a lot quicker and can learn to 

speak at a much higher level.

The reasons are obvious and varied:

  • Adults have more experiences to tie new concepts into. Many adults have already 

  • started to learn a language once and have been sidetracked by life. They are able to 

  • relate to the concepts and structure of a new language, to relate pieces of it to something 

  • else that they have learned, and think of why it works.

  • Adults are more focused on what they learn. Not that they focus better, but they 

  • are learning fewer things. They are not learning six widely-different topics 

  • (algebra, biology, English, accounting, music and Spanish) at once so if they focus 

  • on learning one or two new things they can manage better than school age kids who 

  • are inundated with multiple learning challenges.

  • Adults understand the importance of self-improvement, are self-motivated. Adults 

  • will learn if they have a compelling reason to learn, and they will learn what they want to

  • learn. It is their choice and their decision and they really want to learn. 

  • Many adults have traveled to foreign countries and been exposed to life where 

  • English is not common and realize how much a language can be useful. 

  • They have met people from different cultures and been exposed to fascinating foods, 

  • drinks, words and cultures. They know there is more to life than English and want to 

  • experience it.

  • Adults know how to juggle things and persevere. Adults have the patience and 

  • longer-term attention spans to stick with learning a language. It is not a short, 

  • all-consuming, intensive sprint but a process that rewards the patient and those that 

  • persevere.

  • Adults have developed logic. They know how to ask the right questions and learn 

  • the formula for speaking a language the right way, with the right verb tenses, 

  • nouns, pronouns, etc.

There are many reasons that learning a language may not be on your short-term 

of self-improvement projects. However, that is not because you cannot learn a 

language because you are older or past your prime learning age. Adults are clearly 

better at learning a language; it just needs to be something you want to do.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Why and how adults can learn languages better than kids

10 Tips for Learning a Foreign Language as an Adult

While the U.S. is home to over 350 different languages, according to a report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), most Americans are monolingual. And this limitation can negatively impact individuals, U.S. companies, and even the country as a whole. 
For example, the AAAS notes that learning a second language improves cognitive ability, assists in learning other subjects, and delays some of the effects of aging.
Other findings include that up to 30% of U.S. companies have stated that they’ve missed business opportunities in foreign countries because they didn’t have in-house staff who spoke the dominant languages of those countries, and 40% stated they could not reach their international potential because of language barriers. However, one of the most striking and alarming examples of the importance of learning a foreign language happened at the onset of the 2004 avian flu epidemic. According to the AAAS, scientists in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries did not originally understand the magnitude of avian flu because they could not read the original research – which was written by Chinese researchers.
In fact, the report notes that just 200,000 U.S. students are studying Chinese compared to 300 to 400 million Chinese students who are studying English. And 66% of Europeans know at least one other language compared to just 20% of Americans.
Many European countries have national requirements that students must learn at least one foreign language by the age of 9, according to data from the Pew Research Center. In the U.S., school districts are typically allowed to set their own policies. As a result, the vast majority (89%) of American adults who know a foreign language say they learned it in their childhood home.

Learning Styles for Children

Children and adults learn foreign languages differently. Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, says, “Children generally learn languages through games, songs, and repetition, and in an immersive environment, they often produce speech spontaneously.” And there’s a reason for that spontaneity. According to Katja Wilde, head of Didactics at Babbel, “Unlike adults, children are less aware of making mistakes and the associated embarrassment, and therefore, don't correct themselves.”

Learning Styles for Adults

However, Feal explains that with adults, studying the formal structures of the language is usually helpful. “Adults learn to conjugate verbs, and they benefit from grammatical explanations along with strategies such as repetition and memorizing key phrases.”
Adults also learn in a more conscious way, according to Wilde: “They have strong metalinguistic awareness, which children don’t have.” This means that adults reflect on the language they learn. "For example ‘Is this the best word to express what I want to say’ or ‘Did I use the correct grammar structure?’” Wilde explains.
And adults usually have different motivators. Wilde says that adults typically have specific reasons for learning a foreign language. “Better quality of life, self-improvement, career advancements, and other intangible benefits are usually the motivating factors." 
Some people believe that it's too late for adults to learn a new language, but Wilde disagrees. “Although children tend to be better at subconscious learning, or acquisition, adults tend to be better at learning, because they are able to process more complex thought processes.”
Try 10 tips for learning languages:
1) Know why you're doing it.
2) Find a partner.
3) Talk to yourself.
4) Keep it relevant.
5) Have fun with it.
6) Act like a child.
7) Leave your comfort zone.
8) Listen.
9) Watch people talk.
10) Dive in.
Feal also recommends other ways for adults to learn a foreign language, such as watching TV shows and film in the target language. “In addition, reading written materials of all kinds, engaging in interactive conversations on the web, and for those who can travel, an in-country experience, can help adults make meaningful progress.”
In addition to these tips, Wilde says that Babbel offers on-line courses that can be completed in bite-sized chunks, anytime and anywhere. Other sources for learning a new language include Learn A Language, Fluent in 3 Months, and DuoLingo.
College students can also take advantage of study abroad programs where they can learn new languages and new cultures.
There are several benefits to learning a new language. This type of skill can increase cognitive skills and lead to career opportunities - especially since multilingual employees can earn higher salaries. Learning new languages and cultures can also result in a more informed and diverse society. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Spanish Vocabulary: La Playa

Let's Go To The Beach!!

Beach is Sun, Water, and Sand

To learn beach vocabulary in Spanish, it is useful to also learn some sentences that you can use with each word. This way, you acquire a practical use of each new word.
First, let's look at some words that have to do with the beach environment:
la playa (the beach, pronounced: la plah-yah)
la arena (the sand, pronounced: la ah-reh-nah)
el mar (the ocean, pronounced: el maar)
el sol (the sun, pronounced: el sohl)

What You Wear

To say 'In the beach, I wear...', this is the sentence in Spanish:
En la playa, yo me pongo... (pronounced: ehn la plah-yah yoh meh pohn-goh)
And this is the vocabulary you can use to complete the sentence:
gafas (sunglasses, pronounced: gah-fas)
bikini (bikini, pronounced: bee-kee-nee)
traje de baño (bathing suit, pronounced: trah-heh deh bah-nyo)
chancletas (flip flops, pronounced: chan-kleh-tas; note the 'ch' sounds like the start of 'cheese')
sandalias (sandals, pronounced: sun-dah-lee-ahs)
protector solar (sunscreen, pronounced: proh-tek-tor soh-lar)
sombrero (hat, pronounced: sohm-breh-roh)
For instance, to say 'At the beach, I wear sunglasses,' you would say En la playa, yo me pongo gafas.

What You Could Take

To say 'To the beach, I take...', this is the sentence in Spanish:
A la playa, yo llevo... (pronounced: ah la plah-yah yoh yeh-boh)
And this is the vocabulary you can use to complete the sentence:
una pelota (a ball, pronounced: oo-nah peh-loh-tah)
una hielera (a cooler, pronounced: oo-nah ee-eh-leh-rah)
un parasol (a beach umbrella, pronounced: oon pah-rah-sol)
una tabla de surfear (a surfboard, pronounced: oo-nah tah-blah deh soor-feh-ar)
una toalla (a towel, pronounced: oo-nah toh-ah-yah)
For instance, to say 'To the beach, I take a ball' you would say A la playa, yo llevo una pelota.

What You See

To say 'At the beach, I see...', this is the sentence in Spanish:
En la playa, yo veo... (pronounced: ehn la plah-yah yoh veh-oh)
And this is the vocabulary you can use to complete the sentence:
conchas (shells, pronounced: kohn-chas)
gaviotas (seagulls, pronounced: gah-vee-oh-tas)
castillos de arena (sandcastles, pronounced: kas-tee-yos deh ah-reh-nah)
olas (waves, pronounced: oh-las)
salvavidas (lifeguard, pronounced: sal-vah-vee-das)
For instance, to say 'At the beach, I see shells' you would say En la playa, yo veo conchas.

What You Do

To say 'When I go to the beach, I love to...', this is the sentence in Spanish:
Cuando voy a la playa, me encanta... (pronounced: koo-ahn-doh boy ah la plah-yah, meh ehn-kan-tah)
And this is the vocabulary you can use to complete the sentence:
nadar (to swim, pronounced: nah-dar)
broncearme (to tan, pronounced: brohn-seh-ar-meh)
hacer snorkeling (to do snorkeling, pronounced: ah-ser snorkeling- as the English word)
bucear (to dive, pronounced: boo-seh-ar)
leer un libro (to read a book, pronounced: leh-ehr oon lee-bro)

Monday, June 1, 2020


I believe in grammar, and I include it in my method. But let’s be honest. Studying Spanish grammar will not make you fluent. To reach a conversational level you need a complete course like the one provided in my classes. 
These days, it is popular in some circles to claim that there is no need to learn grammar. The thinking goes something like this:
  • I didn’t learn grammar as a child, and yet I still learned to speak. Therefore, I do not need to study grammar as an adult.
This sort of thinking ignores the fact that as an adult you have a higher mental capacity, and learning some grammar is easy and will be a big help to you.


For most people, the goal is not to become a grammar expert—the goal is to be able to speak Spanish conversationally. To do that, you need a complete conversation course.
With Costa Blanca Languages, by combining Spanish grammar exercises with real conversational practice, you will much more quickly reach a level where you can communicate effectively.
And for most people, communication is the primary goal. For others, it is passing an exam, and techniques to teach how to communicate effectively change depending on the case, but in my view grammar is always a useful tool to achieve higher goals.

Is Grammar Really Necessary to Learn a New Language?