Scientific Proof: Seniors CAN Learn A New Language!

Can Seniors Learn A New Language?

Is learning a new language on your bucket list? Then as a senior, you might be wondering, can seniors learn a new language?

Seniors can learn a new language because they benefit from their large vocabulary. It makes learning words in a new language easier. The learning process is longer because of slowed-down neurons in the brain. Mental and physical exercise can increase the ability to learn. Being physically active nurtures the growth of new brain cells. And mental challenges increase cognitive abilities.

Now that we’ve established that you’re never too old to learn new things. Let’s dig in a bit deeper into why you can easily learn at an older age and the best way to learn a new language as a senior. So continue reading!

Scientific Proof That Seniors Can Learn A New Language Easily

The public opinion is that learning is hard at an older age. Perhaps you’re convinced that it is impossible to learn a new language even though you dream about speaking a couple of words of Spanish, French, or another language. Maybe you’ve experienced that learning is more difficult compared to when you’re were younger. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading my article right now. Well, let me prove you otherwise.

We all know that kids are like sponges and that learning becomes easy for them, which is very true. Only that doesn’t mean that learning at an older age is impossible. The reason why kids are easy at learning is that they learn every day.

As we get older we often stop learning because we dedicate our time elsewhere. Kids spend their whole childhood at school learning new things and skills. And because life is new to them, they even continue learning outside school. For them, the whole world is filled with new discoveries. And they’re eager to discover everything. This is the key to their success. Learning is easy for them because they keep learning.

According to this research, 60-year-olds and older participants were challenged to learn at least three new skills simultaneously for 3 months. “Learning multiple skills simultaneously increased cognitive abilities in older adults by the midpoint of the intervention, to levels similar to performance in a separate sample of middle-aged adults, 30 years younger.” To sum it up: your brain will function younger when challenged thoroughly enough. Therefore learning becomes easier as you challenge yourself mentally regularly.

Also, according to a study, 60-year-olds often underestimate the power of their brain memory and ability to learn. The lack of confidence keeps them from pursuing learning new things. Then it becomes a downward spiral. Seniors don’t challenge their brains frequently, which will result in learning becoming harder. And then the confidence goes down… etc. Up to the point that you’re convinced that you can’t learn anything after 60.

To make learning easy at 60 is to keep learning as you age. Learning rewires the brain and optimizes the brain through a process called myelination, no matter the age. It’s the process where you experience becoming better at a skill with time and practice.

Best Method To Learn A New Language As A Senior

When you want to learn a new language as a senior, it’s important to choose a language that you feel related to. If something has your genuine interest, it becomes easier to spend time on this subject and learn that particular language. For example, when you have a high interest in Spanish culture, you might want to start learning to speak Spanish as well. 

There are many ways how you can learn a new language. The easiest and most straightforward way to start is by using a language learning application. Busuu is an application that’s perfect for learning a new language. Busuu was named the #1 language learning application in 2020. 

I like using an application like Busuu because you can set your learning program and schedule. When you follow the courses, you decide which is ideal for having a busy life with all the fun things to do as a retiree. You can start using the Busuu application for free. Still, when you genuinely want to become fluent in a language, I recommend using a premium membership. It will only cost you around 6 dollars a month and has many extras, like; 

  • It allows you to learn up to 12 different languages, 
  • Get certified with official McGraw Hill tests, 
  • Learn in offline mode, and many more benefits. 

Get your Busuu premium subscription here

Benefit From Your Learning Skills and Experience

Using a language application like Busuu is a beneficial tool to learn a new language. But as a senior, you can benefit from much more tools and experiences you probably didn’t think of. Over the years, you’ve probably constantly been busy learning new things. You became a learning expert! There’s a good chance you’ve created a way of learning that works best for you. So, when you start learning a new language, it’s time to use this knowledge. 

Combine your learning skills and learning experience with a premium membership of Busuu, and you’ve created your own best personal growth program. 

Maybe you quickly learn by repeating words over and over again or by watching videos of others speaking that particular language. It doesn’t matter which way you choose, as long as the way of learning works best for you. 

Set out a plan for yourself. You can save your personal learning plan in the Busuu application when using the premium program

Another significant aspect of being a senior and learning a new language is that you’ve acquired an excellent knowledge of your native language over the years. Maybe you’re even fluent in a second language as well. Most people can speak two languages nowadays. Either way, having this knowledge about languages means you know many different words, sentences, and even things about grammar and other language-related things. 

Using this language knowledge helps you to learn a new language more easily. Learning a new language as a senior may take longer because the brain’s adaptive function decreases over time. But on the other hand, you can speed up learning by using your experience and knowledge. So, good chance that you can learn a new language as fast as a younger person, and maybe even faster! 

Stick To What Works Best For You

Choose the learning curve that works best for you. It is that simple when you want to learn new things and succeed quickly. When you’ve set your mind to learning something new, stick with it. Don’t give it. This is not different than when learning a new language. However, it is essential that you choose the learning curve that works best for you. Because when you follow a program of someone else, you probably have more difficulty to become fluent in that language and succeed. 

You have learned best what works for you (well, that’s a funny sentence now I think of it!). For example, when I start learning new things, it works best for me by simply doing it. My mind is somehow more focused on practical things, so when learning a new language, I learn the best way by speaking that language. That’s how I learned to speak Spanish, English, and French. 

My husband is more theoretical-focused. He learns best by first learning different words, grammar rules and then speaking the language. See how two people can become fluent in a language when following a different learning curve? The most important thing is that you stick to the way of learning that works best for you. Using a language application like Busuu can help you to stay focused on this learning curve. Find out more about the premium Busuu program here

Benefits Of Learning A New Language As A Senior

So, as a senior, you can easily learn a new language. As long as you stay determined and focused on the way you learn best. Learning a new language is not only a fun activity, but there are many health-related benefits as well.

It’s important to keep learning new things because it helps to keep your mind sharp and fit. Just like focusing on physical activity to train your muscles, you must similarly train your brain. According to this article on Harvard Health Publishing, learning new skills can slow cognitive aging. 

But just learning a few words in a different language for fun doesn’t cut it. If you really want to get the most out of these health benefits, you must get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and genuinely start learning a new language. Focus on becoming fluent in that language. 

study published on Psychological Science compared two groups of people between the age of 60 and 90. One group was assigned to learning complex activities, like learning a new language. And the other group focused on doing simple mental activities. 

The group that learned more complex activities showed more improvement in overall memory than the group that did simple activities. 

Increase Social Interactions And Activity

Learning new things often benefits your social interactions as well. When you start learning new things you often go somewhere to actually follow a course, where you’ll meet other like-minded people. Even when you’re learning from home, you probably interact with other people via online chats or video calls. 

Having enough social interactions is also related to healthy aging. According to this article, older adults with more social interactions outside their regular social circle of family and friends show fewer signs of depression and are more active. The reason for this is that people need to leave their house to meet with other people. 

Having an active lifestyle is one of the most important things you can do to prevent issues that come with age. Like we just learned, it’s just as important to focus on getting enough physical activity and brain activity when it comes to healthy aging. 

Tips For Making Learning A New Language More Easily

We covered many important things about learning a new language as a senior. One of the most important things you need to remember is that you’re never too old to learn. Learning new things like learning a new language has many health benefits, and it’s a fun activity to do! 

If you focus on the learning curve that works best for you, you probably will learn a new language effortlessly. Also, using the language learning application Busuu helps you speed up the process and become fluent in the language you want to learn. 

When you already have a basic knowledge of a language, you can start reading books in that language, which helps to speed up the learning process as well. When you read books in a different language, you pick up more about specific cultural sayings and humor. 

Some people choose to focus on total immersion, meaning that they change their lifestyle and focus on becoming fluent in a specific language. They do so by moving to that country, creating social interactions with locals, and so on. Total immersion is known as one of the best ways to become fluent in a few months. It’s something you can focus on as a senior and when you’re retired. Maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, living in a different country for a while. So why not combine it with learning a new language as well?

Starting to learn a new language as a senior is a great thing you can do! I researched the benefits of learning a new language and wrote several articles about it. You might find these articles interesting to read as well; 

Kirsten Veldman

Since 2017, my husband and I have been location-independent retirees. With hundreds of articles written, I'm passionate about helping other retirees!

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