How to Learn a Language at Home (and Why You Should)

May 27, 2020

How to Learn a Language at Home (and Why You Should)

Interested in learning Greek? Want to brush up on your high-school French?  With all of us spending more time at home, now may be the perfect chance to learn a new language – and you’ll be glad you did.

Mastering a language is a mental workout: It requires focus, memorization and complex pattern-matching. And, in the same way fitness is good for your body, the challenge of learning a language can benefit your long-term cognitive health.

According to one BBC article, “being multilingual can improve attention and memory, [which] can provide a ‘cognitive reserve’ that delays the onset of dementia.” One study found that speaking two languages delayed a dementia diagnosis by an average of five years. With so many benefits, there’s no reason not to get started.

Whether you’re learning Czech, Chinese or Cherokee, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Use technology to your advantage. Even if you can’t sit in a classroom, there are plenty of resources for language-learning online. Rosetta Stone and Babbel offer self-paced lessons on a paid subscription model. Other options, like Duolingo, are free. Depending on the language and how much time you want to devote to studying, you may need to experiment to find a course that suits you.
  2. Immerse yourself. The more you hear, read and speak a language, the faster and more easily you’ll learn it. Queue up a French film on Netflix with subtitles, tune in to your local Spanish news channel, or stream some Italian music on Spotify or Pandora. More advanced students can try reading books or keeping a journal in their language of choice.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. In the 1980s, some researchers proposed that adults can never become fluent in a second language unless they started as children. But modern research shows that age has little to do with it. More important is what’s called “ego permeability” – the willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and make mistakes.“If there’s a single factor that stops people learning languages efficiently, it’s that we feel we have to be native-like. It’s an unreachable standard that looms over us,” said one researcher. “The ease of expression is what matters.”

At the Mayflower, we believe a commitment to wellness means thriving in body, mind and soul – chasing passions, learning new skills, and being assured of quality, compassionate care. While the spread of COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work, our top priority remains the well-being of everyone in our community. For more information, contact us here or give us a call at 407-672-1620.