Hey there! This is TOP episode 121. Do Kids Learn Faster Than Adults?

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. My goal is to help you start speaking English with confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. I believe it is achievable for you and it’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello, you alright? Thank you for joining me here today! So, tell me! Do kids learn faster than adults? Most of us have this mistaken notion that kids learn any second language faster than adults. Many linguists still believe that, but the thing is we have enough data to say firmly this is not true. The truth is adults actually learn faster than kids. End of story. Let me break it down for you in this episode. 

If you feel like you’d like to support my work please tell somebody about the Teacher Ola Podcast and share this episode somewhere on your social media platforms if possible. Become a member of TOPeople, receive worksheets right into your inbox. Go to teacherola.com/newsletter. 

Answering your requests I have prepared a Worksheet Set (1), it’s a set of 31 Worksheets and it comes with a great tool I created and called ‘Speaking English Planner’. It’s gonna help you plan and monitor your daily habit of speaking English out loud. Remember, always say it out loud! Worksheet Set (1) is available at teacherola.com/shop

Ok, let’s jump in. Repeat after me: kids. Learn. Slowly. Slower. Than. Adults. Kids learn slowly, slower than adults. Yeah! Let’s break it donw now. Aaaand, please don’t forget to stay till the practical part and repeat the sentences out loud. 

Adults learn faster and often more easily, but bear in mind we talk about learning a second language. Not the first one, because that is a whole new story but we’re not going there today. It’s none of our interest. 

Sometimes we think that bilingual kids are so fast in learning not one but two languages! But think again. It takes years before a child starts talking. And these are not complex sentences. Just words from a really narrow vocabulary bank. 8, 9, 10-year olds aren’t capable yet of forming really complex sentences about abstract ideas. Listen. Kids learn super slow. 

It has been proven and researched that in a controlled environment adults learn much faster and more effectively than kids.  Children have no language learning skill advantage. Let me say it again, there’s no language learning skill advantage when it comes to kids. Adults are faster and more accurate. In fact, it’s adults who have the adventage. Adults pick up languages faster for the fact that they have a certain level of knowledge about their mother tongue and that facilitates a better understanding of new structures, grammatical concepts. 

Additionally, grown-ups have generally better ability to grasp abstract ideas, slang, word plays and jokes. We also have the ability to focus on a task. We’re capable of deploying conscious strategies for learning. We have the knowledge on how to study. How to learn effectively. Whether we use it or not is yet another question. Nevertheless, you have it. You have all the abilities you need and no excuses to pull out here. Everything you need is within you, everything you need to learn a foreign language you have. 

If you need more proof that it is not too late and there is no excuse for you not to start today think of all those people, literally millions of people who managed to learn a foreign language and speak it fluently. How come they did it? Because it is achievable. Becoming fluent doesn’t have to take decades! You can do it in under a year! I’m not promising anything, of course, I’m just saying there are people who did it. That means you can do it. 

Another myth surrounding adults and their cognitive capabilities is this opinion that says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Right? Have you heard that? It’s used to say that a person who is old or is used to doing things in a certain way cannot learn or does not want to learn a new way. So with age, our brains become immune to new things. To learning. Well, thank God we have an awful lot of research that proves adult brains are far more plastic than we had thought. 

But kids have one huge advantage over adults. This is certainly something we should learn from them. Seriously, if we only mastered that skill kids have, there would be nothing stopping us. 

When we grow up, reality hits. Hits hard. Suddenly you have lots lost of things to do. You start studies, then work, various responsibilities, life happens so to speak. We start to realize we have real probles. You have lesss time, devotion, and your focus is elswere. 

Children by far  have more free time. All they have to do apart from playing is learning at school, for 7-8 hours per day. That’s their advantage over us. What if they live abroad? No wonder kids learn faster! They spend 7-8 h at school immersed in a foreing language but that’s not all. They are forced to communicate, and as we already know they are shameless. But in a good way. They are free, focused on transfering the message and on absorbing one. Their parents on the contrary more often than not bottle up. They tend to spend time among their compatriots, they are more likely to fear this contact, speaking, action. 

Kids don’t mind speaking a simple, simplistic version of the language whereas adults are. Grown-ups wait for ever, they are intimidated and ashamed of their poor vocabulary but you see, this is were the problem lies. If we spoke simple phrases, if we focused on commnication, strove for actionable steps then we would have the begining. We would have something to build on. 

We’re preoccupied with our mistakes and that’s… sad. Making mistakes is exactly how we learn. And kids mastered this art. This is their advantage. It has nothing to do withe the brain, neurology, no mistary behind it. It’s the mindset. Please rememebr this. Adults are far better at learning foreign languages. They have just forgotten that they should be like kids when it comes to learning. Take off that mask, stop acting someone you’re not yet. Go out there, make a good deal of mistakes and become fluent. Speaking is the only way to improve speaking. Kids don’t fail, they don’t give in. It never occures to them they could. They just don’t. They’re not that self-conscious. Go out of that comfort zone and take want you want. It’s within your reach. Most definitely!

Time to practice. Please liste and repeat the sentences you’ve heard before out loud:

It takes years before a child starts talking.

Children have no language learning skill advantage. 

Additionally, grown-ups have generally better ability to grasp abstract ideas, slang, word plays and jokes. 

We’re capable of deploying conscious strategies for learning. 

Everything you need is within you, everything you need to learn a foreign language you have. 

How come they did it? 

Another myth surrounding adults and their cognitive capabilities is this opinion that says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

That’s their advantage over us. 

Their parents on the contrary more often than not bottle up. 

 Making mistakes is exactly how we learn. 

They’re not that self-conscious. 

Awesome work! Now, download the worksheet I’ve sent you today and complete the worksheet with translations. If you’re not a member of TOPeople download the worksheet at teacherola.com/121 and become one. It’s free.  If you’re willing to start from scratch, and go through the first 31 worksheets I have a Worksheet Set (1) for you. It’s conveninet, everything is in one place, the key is there, links to episodes, you can type your answer inside that pdf file and last but sooo not least you get a Speaking English Planner. I created this to help you plan, monitor and enjoy your daily progress. Links below!

If you find this episode useful, tell your friends about this podcast and thank you so much for doing so!

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know. Are you convinced it’s never too late and your never too old? 

Thanks for listening and I’ll see you next Wednesday! We’re going to talk about christmas songs!. Be here next week!  Happy learning. Take care! Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!