The Truth about Learning English as an Adult – BELS Malta

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A Guide to Learning English as an adult

Is it too late to learn English as an adult?

While it is always recommended to start learning English as a child, it is by no means impossible to start learning English as an adult.

Of course, it has been proven time and again that children are more receptive to new languages and language stimuli, but that shouldn’t stop you from starting to learn a new language at a later stage in life.

Yet, it’s not as hard as you think to learn English as an adult. There are many studies that show that adults also have some advantages when learning languages. Their life experience and maturity equip them with many important techniques and skills that children simply don’t have. So quickly dispel the myth that adults can’t learn English.

There can be many reasons why adults decide to learn a new language at an advanced age. However, the lack of free time, a job, or even the family sometimes make this decision difficult. In the end, it is above all a question of motivation and one’s own interest which influences whether one manages to learn a foreign language. Nowadays, however, it is more important than ever to master English, because English opens the door to the world for you. It is used in all countries of the world and is required in many areas of life. Therefore, now is exactly the right time to learn English in adulthood.

Why is it a good idea to learn English in adulthood?

Firstly, adults have a more developed cognitive system that makes it easier for them to learn new content. They also have a greater learning experience. They usually already know themselves and their own learning strategies very well and know how they can best absorb content. Language learning is therefore more efficient.

Secondly, because they have so much life experience, adults are also at an advantage, particularly when learning vocabulary. They can make more associations with the terms than children and create clever learning bridges in their heads. Thirdly, adults also bring a much broader vocabulary to learning and usually have greater expertise. So they can comprehend things more easily and understand grammatical structures better.

Ultimately, there are many more learning opportunities when learning in adulthood. Adults usually bring a higher level of motivation and so often find more exciting ways to achieve their goal – learning English. They attend our language courses, often going on an exciting language trip abroad, reading English books or even watching films and series in the original English version.
Language learning thus becomes not only a hobby but also brings other benefits.

Here are 4 benefits of learning English as an adult

1. Increasing intelligence

Language learning always involves learning new sounds, words and grammar forms. As a result, you will quickly notice how your performance and receptiveness always improve. You will soon be ready to handle different situations in different languages.

Neurologists have also found that there is no better way to keep the brain on its toes than learning languages. So when you start learning English, you are exercising your memory and as you move from one language to another, new connections are being made in your brain.

2. Improving your memory

While your brain is busy processing all the new English sounds, vocabulary and grammatical phenomena, your memory improves automatically. This improves your mental performance and reduces the risk of cognitive impairment later in life.

3. Optimising mental flexibility

You automatically become more mentally flexible when you learn a new language. Why? During the process of language learning, all areas of your brain are activated. So all the functions of the brain have to work and make an effort, and that’s how new connections are made, so your brain gains. In addition, a study by University College London found that our brains can work faster when we learn new languages.

4. Making new friends

A significant benefit of learning English as an adult (and probably as a child or teenager) is making new friends. You will meet people who are in exactly the same position as you and who are also learning English. With your new friends, you may even share the same interests or stumble across the same difficulties during your learning. Together you can motivate yourselves and practise English. There really is nothing better than learning English together with new friends.

So, are you thinking of learning English? Here are what a few of our former adult students had to say about their experience with BELS.


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