Learning a new language in your fifties can be extremely beneficial. Here's why.
If you’re in your thirties, you’ve probably heard some of your friends complain about feeling old. You may have even made such complaints yourself. This is something people love to joke about, and while it’s true that the first signs of middle age might begin showing in your thirties, you are still relatively young at this stage. With decades of adult life still on the horizon, this is a period that many choose to begin a fresh focus on developing themselves.
If you’re interested in learning a language, there’s no better time than now. The challenges and adult responsibilities of your thirties could distract you from the learning process if you let them. These challenges are different from the time you were in your twenties. To meet your goal, you will need to carefully examine your lifestyle and find effective ways to make language practice part of your everyday schedule.
Learning Foreign Languages in Your Thirties: Don’t Get Distracted
While your goal to learn a language in your thirties is more than achievable, you’ll want to watch out for the many factors that could stand in your way.
1. Your Career
By your thirties, you’ve likely figured out what you want from your career path, which means you’re working hard on making your dreams come true. This is a wonderful thing! You already know that learning foreign languages can enhance your resume and make yourself more desirable as an employee, but a heavy workload can also hinder study time.
The good thing about language learning is that it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. In as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day, you can move forward toward fluency in a foreign language. This might seem impossible, but remember that language learning is cumulative. Those short sessions build on each other and eventually begin to add up.
2. Your Family
Most people marry and have children at some point in their thirties. Even if you don’t have children, you might be busy enjoying life with a new spouse or settling into your first home. This is an exciting and fun phase of life, and your family should always be a priority. However, if language learning is important to you, your spouse will hopefully be supportive. Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for help. Practicing a language can be a funny and interesting activity to enjoy together.
Perhaps your spouse has no interest in language learning, and you’re too tired to focus right before bed. If so, consider sneaking in mini-sessions whenever you have a spare few minutes during the day. Opportunities might include the 10 minutes you spend shaving in the morning or the 20 minutes you spend on the train ride to work. If you’re an outgoing person, you might even notice a native speaker you can practice with!
3. Your Stress Levels
Stress and a busy life go hand in hand. Along with work stress, there is also the stress of raising a family, maintaining your relationship with your spouse and finding time for fitness and health. You might be able to carve out 15 minutes a day for language learning, but if you’re too stressed to focus, will it do you any good?
Reducing stress is important for all aspects of a healthy and happy life. If you’re already meditating and practicing deep breathing, it might be helpful to schedule your language practice right afterward. If you’re not, consider taking a minute to breathe deeply and relax before you begin practicing. Even one minute will make a difference.
4. Your Fears
There is a lot of negative chatter in the modern world, especially online. Just like you’ve heard your peers complain about getting older, you’ve also likely heard people say that an older brain doesn’t learn as well. This is untrue, but if you already have doubts about your ability to learn, you might let this negative chatter get to you.
Your vocabulary expands with age, especially if you read and continue to educate yourself. This means you’re likely familiar with many cognates, which are words that sound and look similar in multiple languages. Adults in their thirties have learned what works for them, and they may have developed better methods for studying than they had in their twenties or teens. There’s also the fact that you have the desire to learn the language versus being forced into it by your school as a younger person. If you have the desire and passion for something, it’s much easier to focus than if you feel pressured into it.
Learn Languages Online: Choosing a Study Schedule that Works for You
In the past, you would have had to take a class to have access to a teacher and other students to practice the language with. Now, thanks to a variety of helpful online apps, you have plenty of options for language learning, and most can be tailored to meet your individual needs. Some of these apps even have built-in voice chat to allow you to practice with a native speaker.
Everything you learn in your thirties will continue to expand your mind and inspire more learning and personal development as you age. There is no better time than now to begin the process. So, why not learn a bit of German or pick up some new Portuguese phrases this week?