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Febbraio 2008

It is never too late for learning a foreign language!

StudentsLearning languages can be considered a good way to keep mind alive. Even if it is commonly known that cerebral ageing implies changes in the cognitive activities, in the last years there has been a different approach to this field. Especially in the USA , but also in other countries, the trend is now to consider the mind as a true organ that obviously needs to be cured and taken in exercise. The reason of this different point of view in comparison with the past is that academics have realised that the brain plasticity and its reactivity can be preserved, although in certain limits, also in the old age. Even if elderly people may have difficulties with memorisation and pronunciation, recent studies have showed that learning languages contributes to increase the quantity of grey matter, this means that bilingual people have more neurons than monolingual people, consequently they can keep their cognitive functions in exercise better than the latter ones do. Many mature students are very concerned with psychological factors (the fear to lose one’s face, the stress caused by grammar tests, the pace imposed by other students to the lessons), which turn out to be considerably influential either on motivating or on discouraging the learner. Even if there are no definite methods for teaching to elder people Suggestopedia can be considered an effective approach to a foreign language. As the word explains itself, Suggestopedia “suggests” an introduction to the language in a very spontaneous and relaxing way. Needless to say that travelling through a foreign country is probably the best way to learn the language spoken of the nation you visit, especially if you also take a course in a language school for foreigners. This could be a nice way to avoid the fear and the stress of the traditional learning methods, since the period of study can be easily associated with the idea of vacation. Fo those who are afraid of travelling alone it is recommendable to organize a holiday with some other friends who may be interested in the same language. Moreover, if you register in a school and ask for lessons for a small group of learners you may obtain a special pricet and it is easier also to ask for a tailored programme with the method and content you prefer. The third age it is not a limit but a good opportunity for doing what you have never done before!

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