This is one of the most debated subjects when it comes to learning the English language. Does a child absorb a second language faster or do adults manage to learn quicker because of their experience and already formed thinking patterns?
This topic was subjected to many tests that had mixed results. Regardless of what studies say, there is one clear rule that most people ignore. The two students have completely different challenges and thus can have different results.
Adults and Children Learn in Different Ways
One of the first things people should realize is that children often times have a harder time learning a second language like the English language because they have a lot more work to do. Depending on their age, they still lack the thinking patterns that most adults have. Sure this can be great if you’re looking for originality and creativity but when it comes to learning something as precise as a language it can give kids quite a hard time.
Imagine you just learned the alphabet or maybe you haven’t even gotten there, you can’t differentiate between certain sounds or that your reading abilities are somewhere near 1 page every quarter hour. This doesn’t mean that children will learn a second language slower. It just goes to show how important it is to have the correct approach, one that takes into consideration your age.
Adults would have a hard time too learning the way children do. They wouldn’t assimilate as much of the language by simply listening as kids do, and they might have a bigger problem with classic mistakes or with a heavier accent, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be corrected with a little extra work.
Another advantage that adults have over children is their ability to better understand body language. This can help a lot considering the importance of body language when it comes to understanding foreign language speakers. Even without knowing a single word adults can easily understand feelings like anger, sadness, hunger and so on.
Both ways have their merits
Another thing that contradicts most studies that suggest babies and young children can learn faster than adults is the disposition of the student. A child can have a hard time concentrating on a single subject for an hour, sometimes even more. This is why children’s English books are so vividly colored and full of pictures. They have to captivate a child’s attention while giving him something fun to do.
Another element that might suggest that children learn quicker than adults is the lower standards for children learning. For a preschooler, the proficiency level is much easy to reach than for an adult who is learning the English language to improve their CV or get a better job. A smaller vocabulary, looser grammar rules and an altogether lighter curriculum give the illusion that children learn faster when in fact they just learn fewer elements. This might lead to another cliché that says adults are sometimes too old to learn. Countless studies have proven this way of thinking wrong, and have shown that people do not lose their learning ability over time.