I am Helen, 50 years young and a little bit obsessed with languages. I am an English language teacher from the North of England, mum to two pre-teenage children and now a keen language learner. As well as Teaching English I am trying to inspire my kids and others around me to learn a few languages and to use their languages for fun and friendships. Don’t tell me you are too old to learn a language. I am certain language learning is possible for everybody, there is no such thing as “a language gene”. You can start to learn a language at age 1 or 101 and language learning can be fun at any age.
Up until the age of 49 I could only speak English. Before the birth of my children I worked for over 15 years in English Universities, I had access to all the latest language-learning technology in the library and I dabbled a few times in language learning. I learnt key phrases to get by when travelling in another country. I knew enough phrases in French, Spanish and German to say “hello” and “goodbye”. I knew the essential phrases for an English tourist; I could buy a drink in a bar and order food from a menu. But that was all! I could say my set phrases, but if people tried to talk to me, I had no idea what they were saying. Native speakers spoke too fast, it sounded jumbled up, I did not know how to reply. I certainly could not hold a conversation in any language other than English.
At the age of 49 I decided that i wanted to speak French. I had family who had moved to French-speaking countries. I wanted to not only say my set phrases but this time to understand the replies. Even more than that, I wanted to be able to hold a conversation with French speakers. Having now studied French for over a year and achieved most of my goals, I have moved on to learning Spanish. I am still learning French, but at the moment I am using and improving my French by reading French websites, watching French Films and TV series and even reading novels in French. I would never have dreamed my level of Fench would be good enough to do this! I am living proof that it possible to learn a language age 50.