You think back to that Spanish or French class in high school and wonder why you can only remember 11 words of your second language, and in the back of your mind you’re always telling yourself, “I really wish I had time to take a class.” You might also worry that you’re too old to learn a language later in life.
Trouble is, you were more likely to learn another language before age 5 than you were in high school or college. And if you’re not using it daily, you’re losing it. Rosetta Stone CD sets and Barron’s 500 French Verbs may help somewhat, but they are, well, lonely.
Talking to yourself isn’t exactly a lot of fun. Isn’t the point of learning a language connecting with other people and cultures? We could tell you to pack up and move to Brazil, but that’s not likely either.
However, you may want to start by asking yourself where you can go, locally, for some weekly immersion. Why not try pulling a “Need a Spanish Tutor?” ad off the grocery store bulletin board and calling?
If you live in a place where it might be difficult to find bilingual communities, then a more practical approach might be to turn to the Internet for online language chat rooms. Again, not the same, but it’s a beginning that could lead to some deeper social interaction.
Studies continue to show that learning a language later in life is an excellent way to keep your brain healthy and stave off dementia, among other things. According to “Are You Ever Too Old to Learn a Language Later in Life?” published recently in The Guardian, “Although learning a new language may not always be easy for older adults, research suggests it can help slow down age-related cognitive decline. One study, which examined the medical records of 648 Alzheimer’s patients in the Indian city of Hyderabad found that bilinguals developed dementia four to five years later than monolinguals.”
Probably the most cost-effective way to finally learn that second language is your nearest community college where you will see signs like “FREE Spanish Tutoring,” and you will certainly meet others who may want to set up one-on- one coffee chats. Free is good too.
Language is a shared, common goal, and when you commit to learning a new one, you become that heritage. Have you thought of picking up a newspaper copy of Le Monde and doing the French puzzle on the back with your dictionary?
Or maybe you can invite over your new coffee chat friend, rent a foreign film and pause it when you two want to look up a colloquial phrase, keeping a journal of your favorite idioms that MAY become revivified pillow talk with your significant other.
Get those linguae wagging. Allez!
By Mark Damon Puckett