This Is Why It Takes A Child To Learn Like A Child.


It’s an extraordinarily common misconception that children learn learn languages better than adults.

One of the claims made most frequently by language software companies is that their product will help you to learn organically. They claim that you can learn a second language the same way that you acquired your first language, by more or less absorbing words and how to use them by being immersed in a certain environment.

All you have to do is pay a few hundred dollars for their program and your brain will magically regain the ability to soak up vocabulary and grammar like it did when you were six.

Rest assured, it’s just marketing, and you shouldn’t be reeled in by it. You can’t recreate these circumstances and you can’t rewind your brain’s chemistry.

The only way to learn a language like a child is to be a child.


Adults learn differently and it’s about time we embraced that fact and utilized the advantages that we have instead of lamenting the disadvantages that come with our age.

Children acquire languages like super-absorbent sponges. They do it naturally and nearly effortlessly. This is their advantage.

But if you really think about it, it takes them years to acquire their native languages to an adult level of fluency. So there may be little effort, but it’s slow.

Adults are only restricted by their motivation and the amount of effort they’re willing to put into their projects, and as such can acquire a new tongue much faster than children. An adult can attain a high level of proficiency in as little as a year or two with enough time and effort – potentially less for some extremely disciplined and experienced polyglots.

While it’s true that native fluency is very difficult to attain after what linguists like to call the ‘critical period’, this shouldn’t prevent an adult from pursuing a second – or third – language.

So lets all agree to stop comparing apples to oranges and to stop being fooled by companies that are really just in the language industry for no other reason than cold hard cash.

Unless you’re raising a bilingual child or teaching foreign language to children, you should concern yourself primarily with the things you can do to maximise your own language learning potential.

The advantages of being an adult learner:

  • You already know how language works. You already speak at least one language fluently, so even if you understand nothing in your new language yet, you do know the basic principles of communication, etiquette.
  • If you’re learning a language that uses a writing system you’re already familiar with you can more or less read and write already.
  • You have access to a wealth of resources. From libraries to the Internet to meetings in coffee shops and bars, you aren’t going to wait around for language to come to you.
  • You know what you want. You chose to pursue this language, and your own effort will determine your success.
  • You know how you learn. Whether it be from taking notes, studying flashcards, or listening to audio lessons – you’ve probably been through years of schooling and you know what works for you and what doesn’t.

So the next time that salesy ad on the sidebar of Facebook tells you that Busuu or Rosetta Stone will help you to learn as effortlessly as a child – disregard it.

Instead focus on the advantages that you as an adult have and apply them to your project.

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