Am I too old to learn Spanish?

This a question that a lot of native English speakers have. Is it ever too late? Should I’ve started later? Don’t worry, we’re here to answer it to you.

There is a misconception in that adults can’t learn languages. This myth is false, because most of the skills we need to learn a language are actually improved with training and don’t worsen with age. So no, you’re not too old to learn Spanish.

While it is true that it is easier for us to learn languages while we’re kids, you actually can learn Spanish well into your adulthood. If you wanna know how to learn Spanish, check out our post about it.

But this post is made to encourage you to start, and for that we’ve gathered testimonies of people that started learning the language while being adults and actually succeeded!

Let’s debunk some myths first

No one ever told me that it is easier to learn languages as a child. I just know it. I’ve also experimented it myself. I’m in my mid 20s and have no memory whatsoever of how I’ve learnt English. I do have a lot of memories of me trying to learn French and German in my 20s, because it hasn’t been easy. T

he reason why I (and probably you, too) think like this is because of the critical period hypothesis. This theory states that there is an ideal time to window to acquire language knowledge, and that after this time language acquisition becomes more effortful.

However, the way that this theory has been applied into Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is contested by scientists such as the British linguist David Singleton, that question the plausibility of it.

Also, some aspects of language such as phoneme tuning, grammar processing, articulation control, and vocabulary acquisition have weak critical periods and can be significantly improved by training at any age, according to this study.

Don’t forget that as an adult, you already have learnt many skills that complement your learning experience, such as discipline, focus, and different cognitive abilities. Plus, you’re already fully competent in English since you have been ‘practising’ it your whole life.

Now that we’ve debunked the myth that adults cannot learn a second language, let’s take a look at examples of people that have mastered Spanish in their adulthood.

Susan learnt Spanish in her 50s

First, I wanna start with my friend’s mom. As a native Spanish speaker myself, I was very surprised when I heard my friend’s mom, a native English speaker, had learnt Spanish in her 50s after coming back from a trip to Spain and falling in love with the culture.

Susan started learning right after she came back from her trip because she wanted to come back to Spain in the near future. She started with traditional classroom lessons and soon she started complementing with books, movies, and talks with her friend from Spain.

When my friend talked to me about her mom’s project, I told her I was curious to see how she was progressing. It was crazy to see how much Susan had learnt after only a year.

We talked only in Spanish and she told me about her plans of returning to Spain soon to visit her friend, and even wanted to visit Mexico for holidays. While it is true that she dedicated more than a couple hours a day to her Spanish-learning project, you should not worry if you don’t have that much time a day to dedicate to it. Just make sure you do practice some minutes a day for it to stick with you.

Let’s not forget about Steve Kaufmann

If you need some motivation to start learning Spanish, I believe this is it. Steve Kaufmann is a 76 year old Swedish-Canadian polyglot that as of today has an understanding and can speak around 20 languages.

In his young years, he was connected to Spanish in different ways but didn’t start learning it until his 20s. According to him, the secret is not being too worried about perfect pronunciation, and he’s motivated by his love for the language.

What I find fascinating about him is that you can tell how much he loves learning languages, and that serves as a huge inspiration for me. Take a look at this video where he tells the story of him learning Spanish:

He also has a podcast about learning languages and a lot of episodes about Spanish in particular.

I hope this article has given you the motivation you needed in order to start learning this amazing beautiful language.

Let me know in the comments how old were you when you started and how are you doing with progress!

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