Learn a language after retirement: Why you really are never too old

Learning a language is a skill often associated with the young. But learning a new language is by no means limited to young people – many elderly people take up the challenge of learning a language as a hobby, and the benefits are manifold.

If you think your parent might enjoy learning a language, here are some of the benefits it could provide.

A Sociable Activity

Language by its very nature connects people. It links human beings, as it has done for millennia, and opens up the world in a way that nothing else can match. Learning a language will not only help your elderly relative to potentially connect with other cultures, but it can also connect them with other people.

Although a new language can be practiced individually, it often involves a social element. Language learning groups can be an ideal way for your parent to get out of the house and meet new people in a social setting, which can help to avoid isolation and loneliness and boost self-esteem.

Rediscover Roots

This article in The Guardian focuses on Donald Williams, who only began to learn Welsh when he was 70. Although he grew up in Wales, he did not speak Welsh, and he wanted to connect with his roots.

If your parent grew up in a different culture, or had a parent or grandparent of a different nationality, learning a language can provide them with a way to reconnect with their roots.

Good for the Brain

Learning a language is a great way to keep the brain active. If you think of the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked to stay in shape, you can start to see how learning a new skill can help to reduce cognitive decline. Indeed, the same Guardian article referenced above cites a study in India whereby people who were bilingual developed dementia up to five years later.

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A Fun Challenge

Perhaps most importantly of all, learning a language is fun and rewarding. Elderly people may find that it takes slightly longer for new words to stick, and perhaps more repetition of the new vocabulary will be needed. But apart from that, the challenges of learning will not be too great, and the fun they have will make it a worthwhile activity.

No One Is Too Old to Learn

There is no reason why someone who is over 70, 80 or older cannot enjoy the challenge of learning a new language. Just because people are older, they can still learn new things, and they can still absorb new information as long as they are motivated.

If your parent could benefit from taking up a new hobby, and you think a new language could be a good option, find out about courses in and around the Worthing area and recommend that they give it a go.