Recently, a new study on learning a second language has created a storm within the media. There has been a host of headlines on all the daily print and visual media channels which kept trumpeting the message that it is not possible to become fluent in a new language after you cross the age of 10. If you’re someone who was thinking of the brighter prospects if you could learn Danish, don’t feel disappointed as they have grossly misrepresented the findings and the message they shared was nothing but wrong.
The journal was named Cognition and ‘fluency’ or ‘fluent’ were words which were never used in the study. The good reason is that fluency is not something that the authors of the journal were interested in. In order to be fluent in another language in which you can communicate with other people with ease, you need to have grip on the new language.
What’s the fact about learning a new language?
The actual fact is that any person can become fluent in any language at any age. It isn’t true that young children learn languages sooner than adults or older children. In case you want to test, you can expose different age groups to same details regarding a foreign language, the older adults do it in a better way, both in the short term and in the long run. Learners of the age can achieve an awesome command of the vocabulary of a different language, including structures like proverbs and idioms.
The criticism about older people mastering the new language
The puzzling thing about most of the older learners is that they seem to have increased problems in mastering some but not all the grammatical phenomena. There are several second language learners who get the intricate grammar issues wrong and this is why they fail to have a command on their vocabulary. Nevertheless, it is being said that in case you learn a foreign language at a younger age, you will probably have an easier time in mastering the art of language structure which the older people keep struggling with.
There are other researchers who are of the opinion that there isn’t anything specific to language when it comes to the poor performance of the old learners. Rather, they think that it is due to the change of circumstances which happen as people grow older. They have lesser interest in learning, they have less time to learn, there is a general decline in their ability to memorise things or learn new things and they also have a strong sense of identity.
There have always been questions about how micro-features of grammar are learned in a new language and they have vital implications for linguistic theory. However, these have very little consequences to the actual learner. If you’ve been wondering about the prospects of learning a foreign language, you can definitely do so no matter how much your age is. You just need to be willing to learn the language.