If children and babies are so good at learning a language, why not copy them right? If you've been in the language learning community for awhile, then you're sure to have heard of the concept of learning like a child. It's often promoted as the "natural" way of learning. The whole concept of it is flawed however and shouldn't be taken seriously.

I'm not going to lie though, I fell for it. When I was learning Japanese years ago, I tried this method. I sat there and listened, listened, and listened some more. I listened to everything and anything I could. I really, really tried to be a child again.

It didn't work.

Problem is, I didn't know what I was hearing and would never know what was being said. It just wasn't going to work no matter how hard I tried. My brain only heard noise.

You're an Adult, Not a Child

Seems obvious enough huh? You're not a kid anymore. You're all grown up and you have skills that children don't. They do not have the ability to read and write yet, but you do. Why would you not get started on all skills of learning a language? Speaking right away, reading, and writing are all things you can do that children and babies cannot do at the beginning but you can, because you are an adult.

Children Take Years to Begin Speaking

You can learn and become semi-fluent in most languages within a year. Children take over a year to even utter a word and another two years to begin speaking full sentences. We as adults don't want to spend the time, nor do we have the time to be fully immersed like a child. We have other priorities to take care of.

This is good for us though because we can learn faster. Our brains are more developed. Try to teach a child something new and you'll see how much longer it will take than if you taught an adult. As the saying goes, you're never too old to learn something new (and faster).

Why Learning Like a Child Doesnt Work

Learning a Second Language is Different From Your First

There has been a lot of research done that shows learning a second language is different than your first. When children begin learning, they don't have another language getting in the way of it. They can't learn grammar, they can't translate into another language. All they can do is listen. They learn very differently because they don't even know a first language.

I mean think about it. All they can do is absorb the sounds. When you learn a second language, you already have the ability to speak, read, and write. Not too mention, you can do those things in another language.

Children Have Constant Stimulation

Have you ever thought about how much a baby is being bombarded by the language they're growing up with? They're constantly hearing it, being talked to and taught new words by their parents or teachers. They have consistent immersion in the language. Non-stop.

Most people don't have this constant immersion. You live in an environment surrounded by your language. You have to work in it, listen to it, and live it. No one is constantly talking to you in another language or teaching you like they teach a baby.

The only somewhat exception to this would be if you live in the country of the language you're learning. But still, it's not exactly the same thing.


With all being said, don't fall for this "natural" approach. It just doesn't work. You're an adult, you can learn faster, learning your second language is different anyway, and you don't have constant stimulation like a child.


What are your thoughts? Am I wrong or do you agree? Leave a comment and tell me!

It's all too common for native speakers of English to never learn another language in their life. Most of them say things such as, "well, everyone else is learning English so why do I need to learn theirs?" While a lot of the world is learning English as it is the lingua franca right now, there are still plenty of reasons to start learning one.

1. Mutual understanding

This is a big one. As we have seen in history, a lot of problems and wars between countries typically happen because of language and cultural barriers. By knowing the language, we can understand them better and their ideas will become less foreign to you.

Before I started learning Spanish and didn't know any at all, I use to view people who spoke it as foreign and different than me. Once I was able to understand and speak it a little, I then realized that they were exactly like me just with a different way of speaking.

2. Not everyone speaks English

Yes, it's true! Not everyone you meet will speak English. According to the British Council, there are only around 750 million people that are believed to speak English as a foreign language. There is 7 billion people on Earth. That means that only around 11% of the world speaks English. Definitely not "everyone." If you want to communicate with the other 89% of the world, you might need to learn a new language or two.


3. People will respect you more

Instead of being that guy who makes everyone speak your language, or that annoying tourist saying "do you speak English?" to everyone, you will actually see that people respect you more if you speak theirs -- even if it's just an attempt at it. They like seeing that you put the effort in to actually learn and speak their language. It makes you seem more interested in their culture and interested in them. Even if it's just the basics, they will be happy that you know something.

As English speakers, we often take this for granted. A big number of English speakers don't care when foreigners try to talk to them in English, we just think it's normal and expected that they know it. Think about it from their perspective and why they would respect you more for it.

4. You will become a more interesting human being

How cool would it be to know two, five, or even twenty languages? Being able to communicate in another language automatically differentiates you from other people and instantly makes you more interesting. You will be the life of the party by knowing another language.

5. It's FUN!

Language learning can be fun, but it can also be boring. It depends on how you tackle doing it. If you do it right (and not the traditional, boring way) you will see that it can actually be very fun and rewarding.

I use to wake up in the morning everyday and instantly start learning and studying Japanese. It was so much fun to learn, but I had made it fun. If I had tried learning it the typical way, studying and memorizing, studying and memorizing, etc.. I would have been burnt out and ridiculously bored very fast.

Watch movies, read books, and listen to music in the target language. Go to chat rooms and speak with natives and other learners. Make it fun and enjoyable.


Hopefully you now understand the importance of learning a second or even multiple languages. There are of course many more reasons why such as employment, helping improve brain function, etc. but these are some of the main few in my opinion.

Why do think learning languages is worthwhile? I would love to hear your opinions!