In today's world, most societies are made up of people from all sorts of different backgrounds. It's not unusual to go to school with children who speak more than one language at home. The modern global economy has connected so many different parts of the world through trade that it's sometimes necessary to be able to speak several languages.
If you want to learn a new language, which one should you choose? Have you ever WONDERed what the most popular languages in the world are? You might be surprised! Language experts believe the top six most-spoken languages in the world are Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian and Arabic.
Many people believe that you lose the ability to learn new languages as you get older. Language experts, however, will tell you that you're never too old to learn a new language. As you get older, it can be more difficult to learn a new language, though.
Children and adults learn new languages in different ways. For children, language is their life. They study for thousands of hours every year, because they need to learn language to become part of their communities.
Adults, on the other hand, are already part of a language community. Learning a new language means becoming part of another language community, and adults rarely get the chance to practice as much as young children do.
Moreover, children learning a new language are expected to make mistakes. This gives them freedom when learning to be daring and confident. Adults, however, often feel pressured to be perfect when learning a new language. This can intimidate many people and make it even harder to learn a new language.
Many students in the United States don't begin to learn a second language until middle school or high school. Studies show, however, that the best time to start learning another language is when we're very young.
Research has shown that children who learn a new language when they are very young will not be as likely to have a “foreign" accent when speaking a different language. Some scientists also believe that it can take up to 10,000 hours of study to master a new language. This can be difficult for adults to achieve, but young children can accumulate those hours over several years as they grow up.
Young children also have the benefit of enjoying learning more than older students or adults. If you make learning a new language fun, most young children will jump in with enthusiasm. Young children will often approach learning a new language without fear of making mistakes. This gives them the freedom to learn without fear of failure.
When young children learn a new language, they come to see multiple languages as a “normal" part of society. This mindset helps them embrace learning a new language without feeling like they're doing something unusual or “too hard."
So if you want to learn a new language, go for it! It's never too late to learn a new language. If you're older, it may take more work, but it can be done. If you're a young child, though, now is the time to step out and learn a new language!