It certainly depends on your motivation and intellectual abilities. I would imagine that you've joined HubPages to get going with this endeavor, and I applaud you!
Welcome to our community-enjoy!
PS: Age should not be a concern at all.
Dear Lorie, I have to desagree. Age is of the essence on learning any language and intellect has only that much to do with the ability of learning a new language, although it helps. Being a linguist I can tell you that there is a specific connection that determines the ability to learn foreign languages; belive it or not, it has to do a lot with hearing and much less with intelect. Studies have proved that musicians are the ones best equiped to learn foreign languages fast.
I hate to disagree with a linguist especially as I only have my own experiences to refer to not any empirical data. However; I couldn't speak English until I was 10 and not with any fluency for a couple of years after that. I needed to learn Swedish for a job in the tourist industry, I did that when I was 40. I moved to California and learned Spanish at 45.
I cannot see age as a barrier. I'm now 63 and I've been picking up a little Chinese from the monks at a local Buddhist Temple.
So is age a barrier to learning a language?
Well, it all depends what you mean by speaking a language. I know people who believe they know a foreign language when in effect they have a vocabulary of about 100 words (not even enough to get by considering that a toddler will have a larger vocabulary).
I don't know what you mean by empirical data, but let me assure you that a master in linguistic is a far cry from empiric.
Not to prove me knoledge in this matter, but just to give you some statistics, please know this: a regular avrage person has a vocabulary of 5000 words and will use less than 3000 in everyday life. The best writers have a vocabulary of 10.000 words and will use about 7-8 thousand of them in most cases. There is a great difference between the nr. of words one knows and how many of them are being used.
As for the connection between age and the ability of learning a language, it has been proved aboundently way befor we got into this conversation
I am also trying hard to get good and proper command over the language. Interaction with the community and more and more reading really help.
It depends on your interest ,effort and how much you know the language now. Nothing is impossible.
For what purpose? Writing? Getting by on vacation? Truly assimilating into the culture?
I recently had an opportunity to try out Rosetta Stone for Spanish. By the way, I'm 62, a bit past 35
I find it really is a good way to learn, but I don't expect to become fluent from it. I expect to learn some Spanish. I expect to learn enough that I have a chance of understanding at least part of any Spanish I might hear or read. I expect that I might be able to get a basic idea across to someone who speaks Spanish well and is as fumbling with English as I expect to be with Spanish.
So what is your goal?
English is not a hard language to learn to speak badly, but a difficult language to learn well. For example, learning the pronouns is simple compared to highly inflected languages like Russian, but the number of verbal forms, i.e. tenses and aspects make English a tough lanuage to gain mastery. Consider the subtle differences in: I go to the store (habitual behavior), I am going to the store (continuous or in progress), I have been going to the store (past continuous), I had been going to the store (past continuous, but no longer).
Unfortunately, many people continue to learn and progress only to the point where they can effectively communicate. They stop at that point. My advice is keep trying to improve your accent and ask about subtle differences.
I am Neelu i live in India i am 38 year old.I wanted to learn English.I wonder whether a 38 year old female can join classes i felt everyone will make fun of me so i decided to learn english with videos http://www.youtube.com/twominenglish i am sure i can learn English quickly.
I do not mean to discourage you, but only to make you aware and prepare you for what is ahead. Since I went through this experience myself I do have more than just a vague idea of how difficult the English language really is.
I came to US at the age of 30 with a master degree in linguistics and fluent in 3 Latin languages, but could not speak one single word of English.
I thought it will take me 6-8 month to learn the language, but now, 30 years later I am still learning. I wrote a hub about the challenges of English and, although I did give concrete examples, I barely scratch the surface.
In fact, English is so complex (and complicated because of all the exceptions from the rules) that even the natives are having difficulties; some of them speak and write in an atrocious manner.
Petra, I agree with you... English is a very complex language, and it cannot be learned within a few months - to be able to speak, yes, but to know it as a language and its fluency, no. Most of us (in the old school) speak better English than the natives, anyway.
Im 34, and have only spoken English my whole life and STILL mess it up...consistently. I really admnire peopel who learn a second language. I cant tell you how long it would take, but Im sure that with practice and dedication you will do it.
Age really doesn't matter in this situation. I'd say read a few hubs and be active in the community to help along with your learning. Good luck
Motivation and opportunity play a key role in learning a language. For example I learnt French for four years at school because "I had to." Could barely ask for coffee when I arrived in France the first time. I found myself in a small village near the Pyrenees where no-one else spoke English. You just can't shut me up so I learnt French, albeit with the odd accent of the villagers.
Three months later when hitching home to England I was asked by a driver "where in France do you come from?" My proudest moment with language.
Similar immersion allowed me to get a grip, never quite so fluent, on Greek, Hebrew and German. I even managed 'conversation' in Italian after a few hours with a very pretty young lady in Genoa. No idea what I said but she seemed to like it.
Later in life I moved to New Zealand and started studying the Maori language. I was really struggling. I decided to analyse why.
Being married, I no longer chased women. Motivation number 1. Being a father, I no longer drank to excess. Opportunities to practice (without embarrassment) number 1. Speaking Maori would not get me an immediate job. Motivation number 2. There are few places in NZ where Te Reo Maori is spoken exclusively. Opportunities to practice number 2.
Oh, and I was in my 30s by then. It is harder the older you are. Not impossible but definitely tougher. But I believe that motivation and opportunity are the pivotal things in learning a language.
I teach English as a second language to Chinese students - and I am learning Chinese.
It is bl@@dy hard work to learn any language quickly, or through lessons - An aptitude for language seems to be the biggest factor - I teach around 400 students every semester who have all had English as their second language through normal schooling. 1 in 5 has excellent command of the language, 3 in 5 has a get by grasp of it enough to chat and discuss at relatively simple levels - 1 in 5 never gets it.
I do not have a good aptitude, I did French at school, worked in France for a year and never got any kind of proficiency, I am doing better with Chinese but only because my partner beats me a lot.
I wanted to teach English grammar to Korean Students here in our country and I think, it's a "must" for me to understand a little Korean to be able to relate to them. About the English language maybe it depends on the determination to learn. English is also my second language but we always have english subject in our curriculum since elementary years, so familiarity with the language should be natural.. but then not everybody learned to speak fluently simply because the family never really speak english in their homes. so the speed depends on the determination and of course regular practise...
While learning English is never easy, it isn't impossible. The rate of fluency you'll eventually reach depends on a few different things, such as:
Your aptitude for language (most important)
The effort you put into learning a new language (2nd most important)
How motivated are you? (tied for 2nd most important)
The amount of time you spend learning a new language (6 months vs a lifetime)
The amount of time devoted to practice
Self-learning vs being taught
Are you immersed in the language? (living in an English speaking country or not?)
Reading and speaking in a new language are 2 different things - some non-native English speakers can read & write English better than they can speak it.
Set reasonable & attainable goals while learning - don't frustrate yourself by expecting too much too soon, or by expecting more than you're capable of (how well do you do in your native tongue?)
Last, but not least, Petra is partially right. It has been proven that the older you are, the longer it takes to learn - anything, not just language.
Rafini, these are very good and helpful thoughts, and I hope the OP and others will read and pay attention to them. But I do want to back up Petra on what she said about language learning and childhood. You are correct that everything gets harder to learn as we age, but there are some aspects to language learning that make for additional difficulty.
One study indicated that children over six months of age were not able to even hear a specific sound in one of the indigenous languages of Alaska (I think it is Tlingit, but not sure), unless that is "their" language. The information that I saw about the study made me question some of the methodology, but even so it is rather sobering to think that there may be some windows of opportunity that can close.
Do add to your list the importance of the musical ear. That does play a big role too in the ease of learning (or lack of it). Actually, though, I think you did include it without singling it out, when you listed aptitude for language first.
Hi Aficionada! How ya been?
I hadn't heard that before, about the window of opportunity closing for good - I'd only heard of it as a perception, not reality. I'm guessing this is why so many Asian immigrants have difficulty with pronouncing English...I can't remember what it's called, but I understand it as - Asian languages are sound based while English is not. (can't remember what it is, either!)
Aahh, music! I wasn't aware of that either - except I'd heard (from all the Save The Music campaigns, lol) that students who take music education do better in school, and are more likely to graduate high school than those who don't take music education.
The only reason I'd said Petra was partially right, is because she'd said 'age is of the essence on learning any language' - it isn't an accurate statement, but rather an opinion on learning capabilities. A young child with learning disabilities is going to have a much more difficult time learning a new language than a 40 year old with a strong aptitude for language. It all depends on the learning curve of the individual.
One thing I forgot to mention (for the list) - Hearing. How well one hears and listens to language also affects how well they can learn it.
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