Learning English in Old Age

Learning English makes me feel connected

From casting aside loneliness and dementia to finding the essence, Susan Heintz interviews Birdie Brown to discuss the benefits of learning a language.

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The key is motivation

Brown or English bird as his friends call him, belongs to the group of older adults who decide to learn a language in their later life. Younger students are known to have greater retention and imitation, there is no data that says that adult students are slower to capture new information. The key element to being a successful language learner is motivation.

The emotion I felt was very great, I was going to learn English, says Birdie. I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner. When you feed a family and you lock, you commit to that. Learning a language and communicating with people is exciting. I am very excited to take my classes.

The loneliness of people is something very common, learning a language can help with this isolation. Being alone is a terrible thing. I wouldn't want to sit in my chair and wait for someone to come over one day so I can open my mouth.

Although learning a new language is a bit more difficult for older adults, research advises that it can help slow the process of age-related cognitive decline. There is a study from the city of Hyderabad, India, which consisted of examining 648 patients with Alzheimer's, showed that patients who spoke another language developed dementia five years later than those who only spoke one. This is well remembered by Brown, who states that if you don't use your brain, you lose it.

Scientist Biltoo says that people who learn a language in late life have been exposed to other languages while traveling to other countries. We have found that adults spend more time studying and do not have the pressure from undergraduate youth regarding time management.

It's worth trying to speak a language, says Brown. I will probably not become totally fluent, or have a deep conversation on advanced topics, but I can establish human communication and that is worth everything, because it is a step towards people.


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