Why You Should Learn a New Language After 55

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Have you dreamed of learning a second language? Or maybe a third? Do you plan to travel in retirement and want to be able to speak to the locals? There are many reasons for learning a new language. There are also many benefits for active adult students that you may not realize until you take your first class.

Great Way to Exercise Your Brain

As you get older, you may decide to stay fit by exercising more regularly and eating a healthy diet. Yet many people overlook the importance of exercising their brains. Keeping your mind sharp may help you retain memories and enjoy making new ones. You can exercise your mind with crossword puzzles, quiz shows and reading. But you can also keep your brain in shape by learning a new language.

There Are Many Ways You Can Learn

While some people may think that it is easier to learn a new language when you are young, recent studies show that older learners can pick up another language just as easily. Active adults may also have the advantage of being more motivated to learn and they have more experience with learning in general. The same tricks that help with other learning, such as mnemonic devices and flash cards, come in handy when learning to speak another language. To get started, you can sign up for classes at your local community college, buy an online program or pick up some foreign language CDs. You can also learn many different languages with free online classes. Just a few of the options include programs from MIT OpenCourseWare, Duolingo and BBC Languages.

Meet New People

If you choose to take local language classes, you also have the benefit of meeting new people and enjoying some social interactions. But learning from CDs or online doesn’t have to be a solo experience either. Pairing up with a friend makes it easier for you both to learn together. You can challenge each other to learn more quickly, practice speaking the language together and motivate each other if either of you are tempted to give up. Some active adult communities even offer special groups dedicated to learning and practicing different languages.

Great For Traveling

Of course, learning a new language also has the benefit of letting you acquire a new skill. You may use your new language when traveling to another country or to talk with friends at home. Being able to speak a second language may also open up new opportunities, such as taking a job or finding new ways to volunteer at your favorite charity. Like any new skill, learning another language takes practice. Repetition, quizzes and practice conversations will eventually help you reach your goals. The hard work may also create new neural pathways and add flexibility in your brain. And those benefits will help you stay sharp in other areas as well. Whether you’re planning an overseas vacation or just looking for a way to keep your brain fit, learning a new language is a great goal for your retirement years.

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