• Alejandro Nuñez

An Effective Approach to Learning a New Language as an Adult.

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

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To learn a new language as an adult is a topic that has created many questions among scientists and adult language learners alike, with no simple or clear answers. I must also start by stating that -It's never too late to learn a new language.


There are areas of learning a new language in which the difficulty is greater as an adult, such as speaking. Most adult language learners seem to find it easier to read and understand Spanish first than to speak. A successful approach that you might have heard is that making a little work every day is key, however, we must create a habit that would make it possible and effective.


We might think that creating new habits can be a difficult and hard-working task, but that’s not the case when the habit you’re acquiring will help you learn your target language. The motivation is already there, the question is, how can we nurture it and make it part of your everyday life?


Let’s talk about some benefits that engaging in language learning journeys have. Ali Patillo, health and science reporter writes in her article Adult Language Learning Literally Reroutes Brain Networks Studies show that even relatively short, months-long language learning programs can help reshape brain networks, improve global cognition, and increase functional connectivity in aging people's brains”. While we learn the more functional we become.


Understanding some facts about our brain and how it works while learning new material would give us more clarity on how to apply effective strategies to become masters of any target language.


An interesting fact taught by Dr. Barbara Oakley in the MOOC Learning How to Learnis that researchers have found that we have two fundamentally different modes of thinking. She calls them Focused and Diffuse modes.

As the name suggests ‘Focused mode’ is defined by concentrating on the material you’re learning with intent. However, the ‘Diffuse mode’ is the opposite, it’s a more relaxed way of thinking, you can have a very different perspective on the material you’re learning, a big-picture perspective.


Creating practices that involve both of these modes will ensure a more joyful learning journey, as we’re either in the focused or diffuse mode of thinking, we can’t be in both at the same time.


For instance, learning the conjugation of tenses in Spanish is one of the most complex parts of a student’s experience, therefore, creating a Focused mode strategy in this area would be ideal. On the other hand, becoming accustomed to listening to Spanish sounds is best achieved through a Diffuse mode approach, such as listening to music, the news, or podcasts while exercising, engaging in conversations with fellow students and native speakers in a relaxed environment.


Having this awareness would make your learning experience a very unique one, it would build a stronger will and motivation to move forward and succeed.


Our goal at New Way is to create that learning habit with you and make Spanish fluency a reality. No matter what your age is.


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