Team Freestyle

Can Adults *Really* Learn a Second Language?

We always answer with a OUI,  ¡SÍ! … for a number of (science-backed) reasons. It’s no secret we’re fanatical about the power of language and, specifically, its ability to connect people. 

If you thought otherwise, you’re not alone – there are a lot of myths out there about adults learning a second language.

Read on to see why 
adults can absolutely learn a new language successfully. 

Reason #1: We’re Humans (And It’s What We’re Meant To Do)

Read more about our mission to connect people through language (inspired by Nelson Mandela) here
Did you know there are roughly 6,500 languages spoken around the world today? Pretty impressive, considering most linguists agree that modern languages derived from a single tongue spoken in East Africa 50,000 years ago. 

The ultimate drive behind that growth? Us! Human beings, faced with both the need to connect and desire to communicate with other human beings. 

Our brains are hardwired to learn to speak. It’s why we all, regardless of our intent or effort, start speaking our mother tongue around the age of 1.

“But wait, doesn’t this only apply to young children?” Not quite… 

Reason #2: The Adult Cognitive Advantage (Take That, Babies!)

While it’s true that young brains have an innate ability to absorb language that tapers off as one gets older, the good news is that as adults we possess the cognitive advantage to self-correct and improve – a key ingredient to language learning!

“One of the major advantages adult students possess is the ability to self examine how they learn.”

So then, WHY does it feel so hard to learn for so many? 

Reason #3: It Takes Just The Right Approach!

Most unfortunately, most school systems and institutions are bad at teaching languages. It’s not you, it’s them! (vraiment!) We call that the pedagogy, or teaching methods, problem. The reality is that most of us have been set up for failure in our initial efforts, leading many of us to believe ‘I’m not good at learning languages’. YES, you are!

“I took 4 years of language in high school, but I don’t remember anything.” We hear this ALL the time from our new students.

When in reality, you could go from complete beginner to advanced in less than that timeframe with the right approach! (As 
made evident by our very own learners!). 

So, What Does It Take To Successfully Learn A New Language As An Adult? 

We’ve boiled down all the science that goes into language learning for you in our (free!) 15 minute webinar – but here’s the short of it:

  1. Connect with people, not apps!
  2. Learn from experts
  3. Incorporate ‘authentic materials’
  4. Start with – and focus on – pronunciation
  5. Make it fun!
Want all the learning science behind these tips? Catch a free replay of our 15 minute webinar!

Got Speaking Goals?

We’re here to help! Check out our favorite free learning resources below:
Ready to take it to the next level? Explore our upcoming online courses – emphasizing culture, conversation, and community.