Why learning a new language in retirement, especially if you've always managed with English? It's a legitimate question. But let's see how learning a foreign language affects all areas of our lives, from leisure to physical and psychological health.


Learning a new language at all ages: a world to discover

Learning a language means, among other things, freedom, and autonomy. It allows access to a wide range of discoveries, knowledge, and exposure to the world. Nothing less.

Today we have access to many websites in English on all subjects. But what about travels, chatting with that new neighbor who only speaks French, or watching that long-awaited movie only available in Italian? Plus, it's way more pleasant to hear your favorite actors' authentic voices when you watch a film in its original version. No dubbing, subtitles, or bad translations. You're no longer limited to movies and books translated because they were commercially successful. Are you interested in repertory films or scientific studies? Broaden your horizons by mastering another language.

Learning a foreign language while on retirement means opening up to new cultures, including:

  • Music
  • Literature
  • Movies
  • Documentaries
  • Travels

Language training specialists will tell you that motivation is the key to learning.

The brain learns through repetition. So, choose a language that you can imagine yourself repeating every day without getting bored. The advantage of retirement is that work obligations are no longer a barrier. You don't have to limit yourself to the most common languages. Think about what you would like to do.

You want to spend your winters in Mexico? Spanish will be the right choice in this case. You have a fascination for the Italian culture with its good wine, its fine food and its slow living? Impara l’italiano! No need to become an expert. Just have fun!

Travel wise, you can go for an organized group tour, which will surely be a good experience. But even then, it will be easier and more enjoyable to communicate autonomously. Imagine asking for directions in Dutch when you go on the famous bike trip along the Amsterdam canals!

 


The health benefits of language learning

One of the best ways to learn is through language immersion. Traveling to a country where you can practice is a good way. Otherwise, a conversation club might be the right option. You can converse in a friendly and fun way, without the pressure of classes and exams. You can even make friends. Some conversation clubs organize activities to help their members in practical situations. For example, they can go to a restaurant, a café, the mall, or bowling. What a great way to learn and break the isolation!

Contrary to what was believed only a few decades ago, the brain retains its plasticity throughout life. It means that it maintains its ability to change and, therefore, to learn. And while older people learn differently, they have the same abilities as younger people. Moreover, the stimulation that comes with learning a new language not only benefits the areas of the brain associated with it but helps the overall functioning of the brain. Learning a new language helps keep the brain healthy and younger and delays the onset of symptoms for some age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Learning a new language also promotes memory and multitasking skills

Do you know it also helps delay aging. Even more surprising: one of the most stimulated areas of the brain when learning a language is the one related to reward! Not exactly the same as at the casino, but your brain will still help you by releasing substances to encourage your efforts, which will be good for your morale.
 

Fun tools to learn a foreign language more easily

These days, there are many different ways to learn a foreign language. Whether it's listening to a podcast, watching a vlog on YouTube, or devouring your favorite series on Netflix. Your brain can begin to make new neural connections only by getting familiar with the sound of your favorite language.

Memory experts compare the connections that develop in the brain to skiing in a snowfield with no tracks. The more often we ski in the same tracks, the deeper they become and the easier we find them. It is the same with knowledge: the more we repeat, the more easily and quickly we find the information we have learned.

There are also many online courses. But you will also find very affordable paid courses taught by qualified teachers. Most of them are native speakers of the language you want to learn, which increases their proficiency level. The AmazingTalker platform is a very good example. You choose your teacher by reviewing their resumes and introductory videos. You choose the date and time of your course. You can decide to take a 25 or 55-minute lesson by Zoom on your computer, tablet, or cell phone.

Applications like Duolingo can also help you in your journey. No teacher but, on the other hand, total autonomy. You can access your lessons from anywhere and at any time.

 


There are also more traditional resources such as CEGEPs and universities. Several private language schools also offer courses. But don't forget about community organizations such as YMCAs and YWCAs.

As you can see, not only is it never too late to learn a foreign language, but seniors can learn just as quickly and easily as younger people because of the more extensive and sophisticated neural connections in their brains.

And there are only benefits to taking up a new language. It will have a positive impact on all of these areas:

  • Travels
  • Readings
  • Music
  • Films
  • Social gatherings
  • Self-esteem
  • Cognitive health
  • Healthier aging
  • Delayed onset of symptoms of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's
  • Improved memory

It's even good for morale! All you have to do is choose a language and a learning method, and you are all set!

 

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