If you missed the boat to learn a new language when you were a student growing up, is it worth bothering to learn a new language in adulthood? According to Scientific American, a large linguistic study that surveyed roughly 670,000 people indicated that to gain the level of fluency of a native speaker, it is best to begin learning a new language by the age of 10, though the data showed that you can still become proficient at a new language through the age of 18. After 18, the ability to learn a foreign language is believed to decline due to the brain’s next phase of development, social changes, and the further cementing of the primary language in one’s daily life.
While it is likely easier for you to learn a foreign language when you are younger, there is no definitive data that indicates a specific age when learning a new language becomes more difficult. Findings from the survey also showed that it is more possible to become fluent at a later age if you are able to immerse yourself in the country where the native language is spoken, compared to learning it in the classroom.
Despite these findings, if you’re older and want to learn a foreign language, don’t let data deter you. It’s never too late and learning a foreign language can only enhance your quality of life by opening up job opportunities, improving brain function, and broadening your worldview (via Rosetta Stone).