Learning a new language can be quite challenging, especially as you get older. There is scientific proof that as people get older, they have more difficulty learning a new language, perhaps it is because the language-building center of the brain diminishes over time. Fortunately, there are many techniques you can use to help make learning a new language easier.
Connect to What You Already Know
One of the best ways to learn something new is to connect it to something that you already know. Education researchers have looked at how the brain functions and in order for new knowledge to be accessible it must create connections in the brain. So, when you learn language, it is best to connect it to the language you already know or to experiences that you have had regarding similar words.
Look for Similarities
There are several ways to connect the new language to your native language. One way is to look for similarities in root words, prefixes, and suffixes; this connection works well with languages with similar alphabets. For example, many languages have a variation of “ver” in the word for “green.” In the English language, a verdant lawn is a richly green lawn. When you make connections like this, it is easier to remember. But, with languages like Danish or German, the words for green are grøn and grün; these words look like the English version of green, even though they have letters that do not exist in the English language.
Know Your Learning Style
Everyone has a dominant learning style and knowing where your strengths are will help you learn a new language faster. Some people learn best with visual material, many need audible material, and others need to have hands-on activities. Once you learn what works best for you, you can personalize your language lessons to meet your needs. When you learn a language, you do need all components, but you can spend more time listening to the language, reading, writing, or speaking the language.
Mnemonic tools are often quite helpful when you are in the beginning stages of learning a language. Mnemonics are memory tools and when you are simply trying to memorize some of the words, mechanics, and grammar rules, simple tools will help. Some people will make up songs or rhymes or phrases to remember certain words or phrases. For example, “bayit” is the Hebrew word for house, so you could remember that word by saying, “I like that house and want to ‘bayit’.” In English, many people use the acronym “ROY G. BIV” to remember the colors of the rainbow, but this could easily be adjusted for other languages.
Whatever your age is, leaning a new language is always a great idea. Use the techniques described above and others to make your education process much easier. Knowing your learning style, making connections, and using mnemonics makes language learning more accessible for both young and older learners.