Adults and children are different in many ways, including the ways they learn a new language. Children certainly have their pros and cons and so do adults. Adults, relative to children, have different advantages and disadvantages in learning a new language.

So, what advantages and disadvantages do adults have, relative to children, when learning a new language? Please support your answer with facts and little bit of personal experience if necessary but no opinions please.

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    "children" is a very broad category and the answers you expect will probably depend on whether you think about 0-3, 3-6, 6-10, 10-12 yo. or do you also include teenagers? Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 20:30
  • @bilbo_pingouin There has been a lot of research and discussions on the so-called critical period hypothesis, i.e. at what age people learn languages most easily.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 22:33
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    The question does not ask for studies or references to back up statements. Is that intentional?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


Adults don't tend to have any particular disadvantage, children just have an advantage

Children have a lot of time to learn, they can start hearing (not essentially learning) inside the womb itself. They are constantly hearing the language pretty much their entire childhood which makes them acquire language much easier than an adult taking a class.[1]

Additionally, children which do know language, probably don't speak the same as you do. They do not need to learn the language to the complexity that adults do. This means they can learn more sounds and words quicker which is why babies start talking in words, and not complete sentences. [2]

It is still being considered whether children's developing brains have to do with their quick accusation of learning. Rather than re-explaining what has already been explained, this video does a great job of explaining why children learn language quicker than adults


Pros of learning as an Adults

  • Adults can use their native language as a tool to learn other languages
  • Adults can learn grammars of other similar languages easily
  • Improving language by watching movies will be a benefit for adults as they can easily understand what's going on in the movie

Cons of learning as Adults

  • Image recall technique to learn languages which is used by popular language learning softwares works best for children
  • Direct learning of new language can benefit children as they can easily remember words without confusing much

This article gives an explanation as follows,

While the image-recall technique has proved highly successful, recent research has shown that this language learning method works best for children, primarily because at a young age the mind is like a "sponge" soaking up images and their associated words. However, the research suggests that teenagers and adults learn far better by using their own language as a tool for learning. And also suggests that adults require a diverse approach to learning to ensure stimulate and optimize the learning process.

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