Is It Easy to Learn a New Language as an Older Adult?

As we get older, learning new things can get tougher. But that’s no reason to give up on exploring new information – and learning a new language is something that can broaden your horizons at any age.

Learning a new language can also be surprisingly easy. There are a number of tools, from smartphone apps to online games to educational websites, that can make learning a new language fun and straightforward, and even easy. Give the following options a try, and get started with a new language in just minutes.

Duolingo

Price: Free, both via app and on the Duolingo website. Duolingo Plus is offered for users who want to boost their learning and eliminate ads for $6.99 per month.

Languages Available: 24 languages

How to Use It: Duolingo is one of the hottest ways to learn a new language – and it’s incredibly easy to use. You can download the Duolingo app on your smartphone or tablet, or visit the Duolingo website. Choose which language you’d like to learn, and you’ll play daily games that introduce you to new vocabulary and build on past lessons to reinforce your learning.

How It Works: Duolingo will help you read, listen, and speak any new language you’d like to learn. Each day, you’ll complete a lesson – or multiple lessons if you have the time – and instantly see which answers you get correct or incorrect, offering real-time feedback. The lessons take no more than a few minutes at a time. With fun illustrations and careful pronunciation, you’ll translate words, write sentences, identify vocab, and even speak into the app to learn every aspect of a language.

Why It Works: Duolingo currently has more than 300 million users learning a new language on its app and website, and each of those users is learning via a unique approach to language. Duolingo uses spaced repetition to teach its languages, which means learned information is repeated at regular, short intervals.

Each time you learn something new with Duolingo, it’ll reappear throughout your lessons. This spaced repetition is effective because it fights one of the big problems for adults learning new languages: the forgetting curve, or our mind’s ability to forget newly-learned information. Duolingo’s spaced repetition can help you learn new vocabulary and have longer-lasting memorization.

Rosetta Stone

Price: There are two ways you can purchase Rosetta Stone: via CD or software download, or via a monthly subscription on your smartphone or tablet app. The CD or software download options include Level 1 access (5 to 6 hours of lessons) for $124, Levels 1 to 3 access for $200, and Levels 1 to 5 access for $250. The monthly app prices are:

  • 3 months for $79
  • 6 months for $119
  • 12 months for $179
  • 24 months for $250

Languages Available: 22 languages, as well as both British and American English

How to Use It: Rosetta Stone is one of the oldest language learning softwares. It’s been around since 1992, and today it’s available on your PC or Mac desktop as well as via a smartphone or tablet app. Choose your language and your subscription plan, and you’ll take lessons at your own pace.

How It Works: Rosetta Stone is an immersive language learning experience. The program aims to throw its users right into a new language without relying on their native language for help, which results in active learning. Rosetta Stone first introduces new words and language concepts, and from there you’ll follow a carefully designed learning sequence that’s supposed to accelerate your ability to learn a new language. You’ll start out by identifying sights and sounds, move into vocabulary to learn new words, and then begin forming and reading sentences. The last phase of the learning sequence is conversation – you’ll speak with a live person, who will carry on a real conversation with you to test out your knowledge in real time.

Why It Works: Rosetta Stone’s learning process is as immersive as learning a new language can be online. Instead of merely memorizing new words and parroting those words back, you’ll look for patterns in the language you’re learning. Rosetta Stone helps you understand why words are combined in certain ways and how the language puts phrases together. This is supposed to help you better retain the new language and help you learn to not only speak it, but also think in it for increased fluency.

Another reason Rosetta Stone’s learning sequence is so effective is it asks you to put the language to use in many ways. You won’t merely learn words. You’ll have to read and write in the new language, hear and respond during real conversations, and have your accent corrected by native speakers of the language. There are no scripts with Rosetta Stone, meaning you’ll have the chance to actually use the language in real-life scenarios and conversations. And this will leave you speaking confidently, no matter the language.

Babbel

Price: Babbel offers a monthly subscription plan for new language learners. Every plan includes a 20-day “no questions asked” money-back guarantee. You can choose from the following plans:

  • Monthly: $14.95 per month
  • 3 Months: $9.98 per month ($29.95 charged every 3 months)
  • 6 Months: $8.33 per month ($49.95 charged every 6 months)
  • 12 Months: $7.50 per month ($89.95 charged once annually)

Languages Available: 14 languages

How to Use It: Getting started with Babbel is as easy as downloading an app. You can use Babbel on your laptop or desktop, or take your learning on the go with the Babbel app for smartphones and tablets. Once you choose your new language, you can begin taking lessons that are designed by language experts and native speakers for just a few minutes of learning every day.

How It Works: When you’re learning a new language with Babbel, the app’s goal is to help you put your learning to the test as soon as possible. Babbel aims to prepare you for real-life conversations from the start. Each day, you’ll take a single lesson that lasts just 10 to 15 minutes. Lessons will vary, introducing new vocabulary, asking you speak into the app for a dialogue, and reinforcing older concepts with review sessions that bring back long-ago lesson content.

Why It Works: Babbel claims that it’s the shortest path to having a real-life conversation in an entirely new language. And its effectiveness is hard to dispute thanks to its research-backed learning program. With more than one million active users, Babbel’s app and online learning platform aims to make learning a new language a smooth process. It doesn’t throw users into the deep end, immersing them completely as soon as learning begins – instead, the courses and lessons include hints in your native language to offer support.

And that’s what makes Babbel effective. Because your brain is wired to think in your native language, offering tips, hints, and guidance in your best-known language helps you learn a new language effectively. You’ll be given logical, clear explanations to prevent you from getting “stuck” on new concepts, and you’ll learn why and how new languages work. Users can put Babbel to the test fast. 73 percent of Babbel users say they can have a short conversation in their new language after using the app for just five hours.

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