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5 questions for a language learner in later life

What do people say about learning a language when they’re older?

Jeanette is a native English-speaker who’s studied several languages as an adult and is now learning Arabic.

  1. How do you feel about learning Arabic?
    I enjoy the challenge and trying to make connections between Arabic and other languages I have studied to make my learning easier.

  2. What’s the hardest thing about learning Arabic?
    Reading, as the vowels are not written above the constants most of the time so you are guessing what the pronunciation of the word is if you have not memorised the word. Also I think I’m slower at learning Arabic because I’m over 50. It’s taking a very long time to make progress in speaking short complete sentences.

  3. How do you overcome this?
    Constant exposure to written Arabic is important but I don’t read enough for vocabulary to become ingrained in my memory. I just need to devote time daily to studying.

  4. What are your goals?
    To be able to speak to my husband’s family and have normal basic conversations at this point.

  5. What’s your advice for older people who want to learn a language?
    Be prepared for hard work and struggles but know it is incredibly rewarding being able to switch between languages and it opens up new opportunities and a whole new world.

See more about learning a language in later life here, here and here.

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© Christina Wielgolawski