So where does this flawed idea about children and language skills come from? Here we will take a look at why it is easy to believe that children are better at learning languages than adults.
Different ways of learning
For example, children are able to benefit enormously from traditional learning in classrooms with an authority figure providing correct and incorrect answers, as well as through a significant amount of repetition, listening, and reading. For adults, however, it is far more important to focus on meaning and understanding rather than attempting to be ‘correct’.
This means that adults benefit far more from language sessions in large groups, or from online language courses where they can discuss ideas and progress with peers. It is far more important in adult language learning for individuals to be able to establish meaning.
Our brains work differently
Adults did not use the same part of the brain when learning a language. This shows that children’s brains pick up languages as second nature, whereas adults have to think about the acquisition of language in a far more active way.
Is there a cut-off date for learning a new language?
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that adults are actually able to learn a language more comprehensively than children, and can achieve genuine fluency at a much faster rate.
Why does it seem like children learn languages better?
In fact, the issue that children can appear to pick up languages faster is that their language needs are far less complex. Children naturally require a much smaller vocabulary and set of tenses in order to communicate with others.
The perils of ageing
That being said, there is no age that makes it impossible to learn a language so if you are interested in improving your skills in a language or learning a new one altogether, there has never been a better time to start than right now.