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Okay let’s just take a step back a little and re-adjust the statement, in fact it doesn’t have to be hard to learn English over 40, but for many it is difficult, not just to learn English but actually to learn almost anything. Some people somehow, somewhere along the way in their 30s decided that that was it in terms of any kind of learning, and you need to just settle into to ‘oldness’ and discount any opportunity that comes your way. Sad but true, there are such people out there.
However the good news is that as the world gets further developed in so many ways, this principle is becoming less and less true. Thank goodness!
However, let’s get some reality checks here of why could be going on if you have the desire to keep learning a language but find it hard.
- Physiologically – you are getting older and your organs, including your brain do find it a little more difficult to retain and dissect information as it is just not as flexible physically than it was – just as you may not be able to run as fast as you did when you were 16 so too you may not be about to think. Saying that, this doesn’t mean you can’t continue to exercise and keep flexible.
- New learning platforms – when a person learned things in the past there were some basic foundation principles that people would begin their understanding. These now have shifted dramatically, and there are now a whole range of different platforms to start from, each are considered as acceptable as each other and may allow you draw different results that are all equally acceptable too.
- Cultural confinements – though this is changing considerably, there are still some very powerful influences on a person’s personal decisions about life and ideas that are very constricted by cultural expectations. Thankfully as the new generation diversifies it’s understanding of the world, so too does it filter up over time.
However, there are some advantages at learning a language over the age of 40. Every heard the phrase – work smarter not harder? This is where age and experience will come in handy.
Here are the plusses for learning after the age or 40:
- Necessity rules – once an older person understands that learning English is very important so does the drive to learn. They will learn faster, more efficiently and effectively. Meaning, they know it and they know why they know it!
- Deep understanding rules – As the person has spent 40 years learning, their capacity for learning a language is already deeply present in their mind. So when the learning takes place there is already a network of corridors and alleyways of ideas that will be sparked and triggered along the way. They don’t have to bush-whack their way through a jungle that has never been walked through before, the roadways are already there.
- Less self esteem constraints – though this can also work negatively, in fact the older people get the less influenced by others they are. If someone in their 40s decides to learn a language, most people will celebrate and support them, as opposed to someone in their 20s where their family and social group will challenge them as to whether that is the next step to take in their career. Some may see it as a waste of time as there are more critical things to learn right now.
So don’t put the brakes on learning a language when you could be opening up a new door! No matter what age you are!