Do Children Learn English Faster than Adults?


children learn faster than adultsI have to say it – “English is so easy even a child can speak it!”
But joking aside, having taught both children and adults English, there are plusses and minuses to both.

1. Children’s brains are like sponges! True, this is a real advantage for children because their mind is so flexible and open they can pick up a language very quickly, whereas adults have a lot of old thinking habits already in place, so it is hard to break those down to get new information.

2. Adults understand the technical side. Adults need a way to learn that is much more logical, so as a result they understand the technical side of English very well. This has a real advantage because if they keep making a mistake they understand technically how to correct it, whereas children are not as aware.

3. Children learn through immersion. Being totally absorbed into the English world (e.g. in the classroom full of native speaking children, or living in an English speaking country), children learn easily through everyday life and activities. The extra technical understanding of the language is only secondary and may happen only a few times a week. But there are good and bad sides to this:

a. Good side: the child will learn all the English he or she is interested in a very free and fun environment.
b. Bad side: the child will learn not necessarily the correct English, only conversational English and often playground slang that wouldn’t be appropriate in every situation.

4. Adults learn in intense time specific blocks. Namely a ‘course’ in English perhaps 60-80 hours a month and it is up to them to use their English outside the classroom. Again there are good and bad sides to this:

a. Good side: the adult understands the language in a ‘perfect’ setting where they can question and practice specific examples with the . .l teacher and be corrected as necessary.
b. Bad side: the adult needs to make their own effort to practice their English outside the classroom, and often this only happens if the . . person is deeply motivated.

So to answer the questiondo children learn English faster than adults? Technically no, as adults are picking up the perfect English in a shorter period of time. But in the end everyone, whether you are young or old, has to be able to use English confidently outside the classroom and that only comes from getting out there and having a go.


DYK #3

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