Artykuły Czytelnia Learning Linguistics

Why should adults learn more like children?

Written by Ioannes Oculus

There is much talk about the differences between children and adults’ language learning skills. I won’t delve into the ongoing debate, but suffice it to say, the learning process varies with age, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. What does this mean for us, mostly adults, on our learning journey?

We should embrace a bit more of a childlike approach to gain the benefits of both worlds. Many factors can block or at least slow our learning: everyday stress, a myriad of responsibilities, and constant busyness, all so different from a child’s simpler world. We should try to create learning environments that resemble the world of a child.

As adults, we need to find peace of mind, a time and place where stress and hurry are left behind. Before learning, we can relax—maybe just lie down for a few minutes without a phone. Better yet, leave the device outside if it’s not needed for learning. No notifications, no disruptions. Just you and the language, and nothing more.

Children love games; adults, on the other hand, are often too serious. We struggle to have fun, fearing unproductive learning techniques. So, we attempt to memorise the 1,000 most frequent vocabulary items and fail after a few dozen. We resist listening repeatedly to a song, even if it has a nice melody, or watching simple cartoons, seeing it as a waste of time. But where is the fun in neglecting, well, the fun itself? We need the fun, the motivation, that thing to keep us coming back. If we enjoy the process, achieving the goal becomes easier, even if the path is longer.

Finding your fun way can be challenging, but children have another big advantage over adults: they spend hours every day on language learning. That three-year-old learns ways to express thoughts, essential vocabulary for their world, and spends all day doing it. There is immense motivation involved—failure to learn means the child suffers. As adults, we understand that setting goals drives achievement, but we often forget the amount of time needed to reach those goals. Two lessons per week might not be enough. I often tell my students to find eight hours a week for language learning, including time spent watching films. With that balance of intensive lessons and extensive learning, many can achieve their goals faster and easier.

Being like children, at least occasionally, can help us learn languages. So maybe it’s time to rediscover the inner child that’s been dormant for too long?

About the author

Ioannes Oculus

I am addicted to languages, both modern and ancient. No language is dead as long as we can read and understand it. I want to share my linguistic passion with like minded people. I am also interested in history, astronomy, genealogy, books and probably many others. My goals now are to write a novel in Latin, a textbook for Latin learners, Uzbek-Polish, Polish-Uzbek dictionary, modern Uzbek grammar and textbook for learners. My dream is to have a big house in UK or USA where I could keep all my books and have enough time and money to achieve my goals.

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