There are a lot of excuses for not learning a second language, especially as an adult. Many of us know the oft-repeated adage that children under the age of 7 are best-equipped to pick up a new one.
But before you lead your whole life believing that you’ve missed your window, you might want to take a glance at the 2010 study that found adults were, in fact, the superior language learners. And after watching multiple TED talks given by polyglots on language learning, it seems most of the road blocks in the way of learning are mental.
The resounding advice is simple: Approach learning with a playful, fun state of mind (like a child), make mistakes, and try to really live the language — listen to music, watch foreign movies, play video games.
Just like with anything, making a habit out of it certainly helps. If you can spend as little as 30 minutes a day (which we all have — on the subway, waiting on line, before bed) you’ll make great headway. Like Matthew Youlden, a polyglot and Babbel language ambassador, explained in his TED talk, almost no one who speaks English knows all of the words in the English Oxford Dictionary. Fit the language to your life, and make it relevant to you.
Polyglot Benny Lewis said he never successfully learned a second language, even after six months in Spain, until he approached learning like a passionate, fun project. Most speakers agree on this.
The fact of the matter is that unless you experience some miracle, you could very easily live your whole life without ever learning another language unless you make the decision to. It’s not something you’re likely to learn just by switching your iPhone’s language to Spanish or labeling your kitchen appliances with translations, so you might need (and want) supplements like language apps or the well-trusted Rosetta Stone set.
Below are eight ways to learn a new language that incorporate a fun mentality: