Language Learning For Older Folks

I live in an area where there are a lot of older folks and retirees. In fact, it is the primary clientele at my job. Invariably I see that older people who are socically or mentally active live better and happier lives. One of the great things about learning a language is that it can help people on both of those fronts.


It has been shown time and again that keeping your mind active later in life can keep you mentally fit and stave off mental deterioration. The brain can act like a muscle sometimes in that you need to use it or lose it! Learning a second language helps to fire those neurons and create new pathways and new associations that keeps the brain active.

Also, by learning and trying out a new language, it helps to encourage more social interactions and forge new types of relationships. Keeping socially fit is just as important as keeping mentally or physically fit. Even learning the most basic words and phrases can be useful - just try saying hello to someone, or use your new language in a restaurant.

The most common objection to this idea is not that people don't want to do it, many actually do want to, but rather that they think that they can't learn a second language later in life, that it's only for the young. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth! Older folks are just as capable of learning a language as anyone else. The mind may not work quite like it did while you were younger, but there is also a lifetime of experience and associations to draw from as you learn. It's not necessarily harder or worse than when you were younger, just different.

So why not give it a shot? Start learning that language that you always wanted to, sharpen your mind, make some new friends and create some new experiences for yourself!

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