1st new language just before 30

Okay I’m 28, raised monolingual (english of course). What are my chances of reaching a worthwhile level in a second language? i’m maybe 6 months into my target language, am i waisting my time at this age? i don’t mind too much about about accent, but i haven’t seen anyone who started from scratch attempt for the first time a new language at this age. please make me think in a sensible way. thanks.

Steve learned 4 languages from the age of 55, so I don’t see why this wouldn’t be possible.

I started russian from scratch at 24 so a bit younger than you, I come from a family where only english is spoken, but I want to learn loads of languages. I dont think you are ever too old and learning something new is never a waste of time. I have found my concentration and attention details has improved in all aspects of my life, just through learning a language. Sure it gets hard at times but just keep going! I get waves of inspiration all the time (too the point where I sit up for 3 days solid just learning listening reading feeling and absorbing languages) dont concentrate on the end goal so much. Life is made of small wins, everytime you learn one word, sentence or whatever it may be acknowledge it and congratulate yourself on your achievement.no matter how small it may appear you have improved, you have expanded your mind to something you did not know before. Before you know it you will have another small win…then another…then another and so on. One day you look back and see how far you have come, that goal you once thought was impossible has been passed. Then the cycle of inspiration begins again. I had the same problem with karate I thought I am too small and weak to ever be a black belt but I just kept working hard lol then I look up and realise 18 years later I have stormed past my goal. Sorry this was such a long post but I taught a class the other day about how important it is to recognise small wins

What do you call worthwhile? For me worthwhile is being able to feel comfortable reading and writing and being able to understand the language used in the news, for example. Speaking is not a priority, but I am slowly beginning to see that it might be quite fun to be able to speak fluently. How much time etc are you prepared to spend? It took me forever to learn English as a first foreign language and I have only revived (and vastly improved) my school French through LingQ at the age of 64 or so. I am also trying Italian and Russian here: in both these I had prior adult-education-standard knowledge. I started, stopped and re-started Swedish from scratch at least a couple of times on LingQ and am only now reaching the stage where I enjoy writing. But I wouldn’t dream of giving up going for more.

Are you wasting your time?

Well I spend maybe an hour a day at Lingq, which I don’t consider to be that much, but checking out activity scores I’m consistently in the top 10 of the site, so how much time are we really talking about here?

Half an hour to an hour a day, maybe?

What else do people do in that time usually? Watch some mindnumbing tv-show?

Spending an hour a day learning languages will reap some rewards eventually if you can keep it up.

And once you speak fluent Russian you can be proud of yourself for putting in all that work.

Later in life people tend to end up regretting things they didn’t do, not the things they tried.

Just go for it and relax, life is just a ride!

Besides the first rule of succesful language learning is to enjoy it, so if you’re having fun what’s the problem?

If you want quick results, then maybe Russian is not the easiest choice, but I say go for it!

And of course it’s possible to become fluent, it’s all about the choice to put your mind to it and make it happen.

martialartsdude@ very nice post!

Loads of people start new languages at that age. Frankly it doesn’t matter what age you are: you’ve missed the boat in learning it as a native speaker, but you’re never going to be younger than you are now. If you spend just three years studying an hour a day, you will, necessarily, reach a pretty good level. And you’ll speak a lot better than the you at 31 who’d have wished he’d spent more time studying Russian.

Hey, thanks for the replies, I guess I’m just impatient for results, and as it’s my first new language, I’m not even certain I can reach fluency. I do at least two hours listening plus reading/study on top of that, so I should stop moaning and wait a few months : )

Thanks again, no more pessimism from me on the forum.

No it’s not too late. I have just started on LingQ, but I have been learning Russian for 2 year or more. It really depends on how much time you have, and what resources are available to you. I think if you combine a class at a college (which forces you to study/do homework imo), along with a private tutor (if you have the money), and then LingQ for studying etc., you will learn a lot quicker than if you attempt it on your own. In my personal opinion, if English is your native language, Russian is going to be a lot more difficult than Spanish, French, or Swedish. It’s not impossible to learn Russian, it’s just going to be a longer process, and require a lot of patience.

I tried learning Russian at 24 and totally failed. Tried again at 39 and suceeded. What happened in the intervening 16 years to make the difference between success and failure? I acquired a lot of general learning skills I suppose.

@skyblueteapot - LingQ…? :slight_smile:

I don’t believe about this age nonsense. I’m also sceptical about the opinion that you are too old to sound like a native. You CAN sound like a native at any age, it’s just past your teens you have to work extremely hard at it instead of ‘acquiring’ it.

If you spent 5 years living in a country and totally immersed yourself into the language after say, racking up 20,000 words in LingQ first, and then putting a lot of effort into your accent then of course it is possible.

Remember, for every 99 people that will say it is too hard or it cannot be done, there will be 1 that has actually done it.

As you are just interested in fluency, then that is 100% possible at any age.

It is not impossible to sound like a native, it is just unlikely to happen, and in my view, not all that important, nor a realistic goal. Getting close, or at least clearly understandable, is good enough for me. I know that I am more impressed with a person, who uses English well, and communicates will, and has an accent, than with someone who is obviously trying hard to sound like a native, (which can sound a little forced at times,like a certain famous online polyglot), and does not have the same command of usage and vocabulary. So, given that the time we have available for language study is usually limited, I prefer to focus on understanding, vocabulary and usage, and let the accent fall where it may.

@maths: “please make me think in a sensible way.”

Well, you need to stop throwing barriers into your path. Of course you can learn a foreign language. My kids can, my granny can (using the OuiJa for Windows version of LingQ), everyone can.

It does take time to get very good, years in fact. You can’t get very good in days or weeks. However you can reach quite useful levels in a language in a few months.

I think that the reason I failed to learn Russian in my early twenties was possibly because I hadn’t learned to set myself long-term goals and midway milestones, and I think I gave up in about my third week because it was hard.

HAving said that:

"i haven’t seen anyone who started from scratch attempt for the first time a new language at this age. "

OK. I have a friend who taught himself old Welsh at about that age (he was doing research into the Druids and needed to read original texts in the British Library). Another friend taught himself Old English in his twenties. He was doing a PhD in astrophysics at the time, the Old English thing just helped him unwind. My sister taught herself Swedish in her teens, Dutch in her twenties, Italian and about 30. I don’t know how far she got in each language, but she did a PhD in Italy, so I guess she was pretty fluent.

Why do you think age might make any difference to the learning process?

@maths, if you need motivation, read the blog alljapaneseallthetime - it’s about Japanese, for sure, but it is a huge resource of motivational posts. Great, when you feel at a loss. :slight_smile:


A person who is 28 may have a lot of problems in life - but being too old sure as heck is NOT one of them!

If you’re having trouble with Russian, it’s most probably down to the fact that Russian has the grammar from hell; it is certainly not anything to do with your age!

At 28 you are a mere spring chicken! :smiley:

@JayB: “Russian has the grammar from hell”.

It also has the swear words from hell. It is my favourite language for getting angry in. I have had my kids in tears just by telling them to tidy their bedrooms in Russian.

to answer the original question. Yes you can learn at any age. Yes Russian is difficult and take a long time. I have been at it for four years and still make lots of mistakes. But I do understand it well, and manage to get my meaning across most of the time.

I am also happy with whatever progress I have achieved at any point in my journey. I enjoy the process.

Nulla aetas ad discendum sera

Hi I am Shekhar from India I like this side because its very easy way to improve my English Its difficult to me but this side help me to improve my English. My native language is Hindi.