September 2013

Children Learn Languages Faster than Adults is a Myth – Let it Go

As long as I can remember I’ve known that children learn languages more easily than adults. This was practically a motto at the adult ESL school where I taught for many years. It made it okay for us to produce typically poor results with our students ages 19 – 85. What if it wasn’t true and that adults were perfectly capable of learning new languages in many cases better than children! It was not only unpalatable, it was unthinkable.Are children really better at foreign language learning? from The Telegraph Friday September 20, 2013 Snapshot 2 (12-29-2012 6-37 PM)

As you may have heard me mention, the chink in the armor for me was when my own daughter returned from a year in Brazil totally fluent in Portuguese. Wait a second, she wasn’t a child and had no previous association with Portuguese? Although I was tempted to consider my daughter was a genius and this doesn’t happen ordinarily, I knew that wasn’t the case. For me it proved my worst nightmare was entirely possible – ordinary adults can learn languages easily – just not in my classroom.

My career took a 180 degree turn. When I worked from a completely different premise – adults can learn languages faster than children – it had a tremendous impact on my students’ results.

If you stand in a different place, you get a different view.

Until next time,

Teacher Judy