Learning additional languages late in life
“It’s never too late in life to learn a foreign language,” at least I was told. I started learning Spanish when I was 26 after failing the class as a high school student. It was more of a necessity for me as my job took me to the US-Mexico border five days a week. After about eight years of formal classes, holidays in Spanish-speaking countries, non-English speaking girlfriends and numerous embarrassing situations (too many to count;) I’m finally at a place where I can describe myself as “fluent” in Spanish. That was by no means easy; In fact, I had to change my whole life. I was fortunate enough to live in a Spanish-speaking part of the United States and I took advantage of this. I made a promise to myself that from now on English would become a second language. From the music I was listening to to the settings on my phone, everything was in a foreign language. That was the only way I could learn Spanish.
During countless hours of study and many horrific moments, learning a foreign language has changed my life. It has taken me to many Spanish speaking parts of the world and given me the opportunity to communicate with the locals! Without my foreign language skills, I would never have met my wife. English will be their foreign language. I see her struggling with her foreign language and I see myself in the mirror, which was fighting the same battle about 16 years ago. “It’s getting easier,” I tell her, the end justifies the means.
Speaking a foreign language gives people the opportunity to assert themselves in today’s job market. It has become a must in certain regions of the world. No matter how old someone is, the dream of learning a foreign language is achievable. It takes “ganas” as they say in Spanish, or in other words, someone has to want to do it.
I see someone like Andrew Napolitano, one of the great legal minds of our time. Now, at 70, he is still able to learn a foreign language. By learning a foreign language, he could discuss his brilliant legal opinions with a wider audience.
Learning foreign languages brings the world together. Through communication we can understand each other and grow as a unit, no matter how different the countries we come from are.
Age shouldn’t get in the way of learning a new language. Just ask Judge Napolitano! When someone is retired, take advantage of the extra time to learn a new language for their next planned vacation!