Anyone who’s ever learned multiple languages in their lifetime can attest to the fact that it’s much, much harder to learn as an adult than it is as a child. Many people who grew up speaking two languages struggle to learn a third as an adult, and even those who do successfully learn rarely achieve the same level of fluency that they have with the languages they learned as a child. This is one of many reasons to start language tutoring at a young age.
For a long period of time, linguists and students of human development believed in something called the “critical period hypothesis” – the idea that there is a brief window in a person’s childhood when second language acquisition is possible, and that adult second language learners can never achieve true fluency. While recent research with bilingual and deaf children, as well as adult learners, has discredited this idea, it has demonstrated that there is a period when children are especially apt to pick up new languages, and that the ease of learning diminishes with age. Once you’ve passed puberty and your brain has completely finished its development, it becomes more difficult to learn a new language, although not impossible.
This phenomenon is related to the idea of “neuroplasticity” – that the neurons in your brain are capable of rearranging themselves in new configurations to accommodate new information. As a person ages, the ability of these pathways to reconfigure decreases. This is especially marked in some areas of learning – such as languages. While it’s never impossible to learn a new language, if you’re trying to learn, it’s best to start young! So call Ascent Tutors today to help your child master a second (or third) language.