Expert Author Kasia Lanucha

Learning a new language is a highly rewarding activity. It opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities: a new culture and a new way of looking at the world. New research is also demonstrating the unexpected benefits of taking on another language.

In recent years researchers have discovered that learning another language helps children in their other scholastic activities. Interestingly researchers have also revealed that continued use of a second language also slows the onset of dementia in the elderly. Learning a new language will then clearly leave people with great benefits at both ends of the age spectrum.

Here are a few general tips to help you when you start your language program. These can apply to any language but in the United States it seems that Spanish is fast becoming one of the most popular languages to learn.

Theories of language learning offer contrasting ideas of what is the best way to learn a new language. For a long time language specialists believed that total immersion in a new language with no reference to the students first language was the best way to learn.

This is a theory based on how children learn a new language which as most people have observed is almost automatic. The problem with this theory is that it tends to ignore the essential difference between the brains of children and those of adults.

Children's brains are more flexible than those of adults. Up to a certain age children are able to pick up languages without any effort. For adults it is a different story. New research is revealing that adult learners fare better when they use knowledge they already have to process information. This means that in many cases adults do better when they are allowed to refer to the knowledge of their first language to learn the new language. They cannot simply absorb it in the way that children seem to do.

So apart from relying on their knowledge of their original language to acquire a second language what else should adult learners do when they approach a new language?

Students should expose themselves to the language in as many ways as possible. This means listening to the language, it means reading and it means speaking the language so that all three modalities will enhance their comprehension and ultimately their performance of the new language.

It is necessary to study grammar to grasp the fundamental rules of the language but the student should be encouraged to read as soon as possible. There is more benefit in reading the organic language than just endlessly repeating grammar drills with no reference to how the language is used in written and spoken form.

Perhaps the most important thing is to take action and not be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are natural and normal and you will be surprised how soon you start to become aware of your own mistakes and correct them. If you take the initiative and push forward you will quickly see results.

Kasia Lanucha is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and finding new ways to improve our inner potential. A mother of three children she also loves to share and exchange ideas



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