https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Senior Adults and Language Learning

Ciao! I'm a senior citizen who has been studying Italian here and loving it. I have long been interested in learning Italian but was discouraged by the popular opinion that seniors can't learn new languages. I can say that I disagree, except that I guess it takes more effort at my age--67. I'd be interested to hear from other seniors (and younger people too) about how you are doing with learning language.

Now at my age, I have the time and interest to explore my roots, my paternal grandparents were Italian immigrants but their children and grandchildren were discouraged from learning the language because they wanted us to just "be Americans." As I've been studying Italian, memories of my childhood in the Italian community bubble up as well as some of the words, and even the games like Mora and Bocci Ball! I'd love to hear the experience of others who are expanding their minds on Duolingo and challenging the idea that seniors can't learn a new language.

I thank Duolingo for the opportunity to enrich my life in this way.

7/20/2014, 9:01:09 PM

41 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/nashrambler
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I am 73 and not too smart but finished the learn Spanish from English tree two days ago. While I can't say I love it I do enjoy going back to early lessons and seeing how much I have learned. The latter lessons are hard, I wouldn't have a chance without my cheat sheets (Excel files I have constructed as I go along). I think I will have the hang of it in a couple more years. (Translate that!) I hate learning foreign idioms, I love ours. How do we learn these sayings? And so easy?

I am now doing the English from Spanish tree and while I have learned a lot, still, when I read the comments that Spanish speaking people make about a sentence we have translated I find that I can't understand what they are saying. I might like to help them but I can't. But I keep plugging away because even children don't learn to speak well in a year, and it is 24/7 for them.

So keep at it, DL is one of the better addictions to have and it can be done at any age. Every day I need my cheat sheets less and less. (Translate that!)

Ciao.

7/21/2014, 1:38:24 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

I keep a notebook of the words I'm learning and I write out sentences in Italian too. Congratulations for finishing the Spanish tree! I am amazed also that what seemed difficult weeks ago, I know now. If Duo had been around when I was younger, I think I would have learned much more quickly and might have been learning more languages by now. As hard as it seems at times (especially prepositions!) I'm enjoying it. Good luck with your English from Spanish tree.

7/21/2014, 5:29:34 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/mcampbell

And I just noticed - 200 day streak. That's very impressive!

7/21/2014, 11:39:21 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/mcampbell

You might have fun with some flashcard software. Anki and Mnemosyne are 2 very popular ones. Writing it out by hand will "solidify" the information better I think, but the software stuff is a nice adjunct.

7/21/2014, 11:39:05 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nashrambler
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I started out with a notebook but the bigger it got the more I needed it to be in alphabetical order. Someone else on DL gave me the idea for the spreadsheet which allows you to keep adding while keeping it alphabetical. I always wonder who memorizes all these words and phrases. Early on I learned there are valid words that DL will not accept because they haven't taught them to you yet so a list of DL words is better than a regular dictionary. Ciao.

7/21/2014, 4:35:26 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

How do you do the accent marks on the computer? Special program? Do you use a split screen or toggle back and forth?

7/21/2014, 8:58:01 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/kingthatcher
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Here is a guide that will help you with that. http://www.conversationexchange.com/resources/keyboard-language.php

7/23/2014, 11:56:17 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Hey thanks! That's helpful!

7/24/2014, 12:17:11 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nashrambler
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I just press and hold the alt key and then the letter. I may have had to set something up so that would work. If I did, and you are on a PC, not Mac, go to settings and keyboard configuration and look around. If you can't get it to work let me know and I'll retrace the steps I used. On my android tablet I hold my finger on a key and a box pops up with different accent marks. I don't think I had to set anything up for that. No special program, no split screen, no toggle on either.

7/22/2014, 12:05:43 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

I have tabs on my notebook for each lesson, but it is getting very unwieldy!

7/21/2014, 8:59:06 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/nashrambler
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I can believe it. You will probably need to do something else. On a spreadsheet you can do a search and it will take you right to the word or phrase you want. Ciao

7/22/2014, 12:09:51 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/ChukyBlairBass

My mum, who's 62, is learning English from Spanish here in Duolingo. She's getting frustated most of the times, but I thinks it is because she speaks Catalan and Spanish from Spain, not from Mexico, and so some of her translations are marked as wrong because she uses vocabulary only common in Spain, other times she basically don't understand the meaning of the spanish word since it is not used in Spain (for example: Tejanos in Spain is jeans, in Mexico is Trousers) and so on.

Another thing she found troublesome is the lack of grammar, something it should be improved.

By and large, apart from what I told you above, she's learning English pretty fast, since she is Catalan, she only lernt Spanish at school, but her mother language is Catalan, so she is bilingual (even she doesn't know to write in Catalan), she told me she felt ashamed of not speaking English (that's very common in the Catalan comunnity) and so she started one year ago. The basic problem: both Spanish and Catalan are latin languages and English is not. It's a big challenge for her, but she's getting into it and her speaking is muuuuuch better than mine back then.

Apart from Duolingo she translates some songs and follows some Youtube channels that teach English.

I hope this experience might be interesting for you :)

7/20/2014, 10:07:09 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Please encourage her for me! The differences in language dialects from different regions is interesting but I imagine very frustrating for someone trying to learn the same language from a different part of the world. I didn't know that Duo teaches Mexican Spanish.

I recently learned that Italian is similar in that different regions have differences in vocabulary. My grandmother was from Sicily and some people think that Sicilian is so different from Italian that it should be considered a separate language. Even though my grandfather was from Naples, he and my grandmother certainly were able to communicate. At least well enough to have a large family together. They met on the ship on their way to Ellis Island.

My best wishes to you and your mother!

7/20/2014, 11:11:04 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/ChukyBlairBass

Thanks! I'll give it to her! ;D

7/21/2014, 6:00:41 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Wirelizard

My grandmother is 91 and was using DL all winter to keep up her Spanish; she did a three week trip to Gautemala earlier this year and hasn't done DL much since but I know she still does an exercise now and then.

7/21/2014, 4:41:16 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Wow! Now that's inspirational!

7/21/2014, 5:40:39 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/MultiLinguAlex
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This is totally awesome; I just wanted to ask whether the oldest DuoLingo user is, but your grandmother seems to be a good candidate. Hope she exceeds the age of 100 ;-)

7/21/2014, 7:58:27 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/mcampbell

Good for you! I'm 48 and learning German... for no obvious reason! But so far I'm really liking it, and will be continuing.

(There is a good reason, I guess; just not any obvious one - I lost my mother to Alzheimers, and my father is fading for other reasons, and I'm doing all I can to keep my brain active, and learning a new language certainly does that!)

7/21/2014, 12:53:40 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Good luck with your German. We all have to keep our brains active and positive. So sorry about your mother. Alzheimers is a terrible disease.

7/21/2014, 5:35:16 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Lavmarx
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That's the silliest opinion I've ever heard. It is scientifically proven that learning languages has lots of benefits for the brain not matter the age. My mother is 46 but she forgets things easily, just yesterday I was talking to her about Duolingo and telling her about the benefits of learning a new language. Then she told me to download it to her ipad en she is currently learning English, and I'll do all I can to keep her there until she finished the tree. You m'am should do the same! Go for Italian and after that go for anything you feel like learning. We can get lots of things in life but none compare to knowledge. By the way, I am learning Italian too, it is a beautiful language.

7/20/2014, 11:29:25 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Best wishes to your mother and you too with all of your study.

7/21/2014, 5:43:59 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/susanstory
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I'm 58. Learning these languages on Duolingo isn't any harder on my brain than when I was a kid.

7/21/2014, 5:02:16 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Wow, looking at your string of languages, you are doing very well! Obviously a polyglot! Thanks for being an inspiration.

7/21/2014, 9:03:14 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/susanstory
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I'm also doing the Dutch for English speakers course. It's very easy so far. Everyone on Duolingo should all take a minute of silence now for the 193 Dutch victims of the Malaysia airplane crash.

7/22/2014, 4:19:25 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Yes, and a prayer for their families. I cannot begin to imagine losing a loved one in such a horrific, violent way.

7/22/2014, 3:31:03 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/redups9

I have just found Duolingo and am loving it..I am 61 and find it very challenging but rewarding. Italian is a very lovely language. I find I need to do each lesson several times but thats ok with me..I am learning...that's the main thing. Its something new and will serve me well when I go to Italy next year. Very excited about the entire process.

7/21/2014, 2:30:22 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

I do the lessons several times also and review a lot. That's one of the things I appreciate about Duolingo, that you can review as much as you need. Have fun planning your trip to Italy

7/21/2014, 5:40:35 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete
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I am 70 and learning Italian and Spanish and thoroughly enjoying it. I have to say that DL has helped me in doing this, but now I need to find some resource to improve my conversational ability.

It is much harder to remember vocabulary and grammar than when I was in my teens but it s coming on slowly, even though I occasionally confuse some Italian and Spanish words.

7/21/2014, 8:28:38 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/redups9

In my area they have meetup groups where you can practice with others. You may want to check that out meetups.com Also I signed up for an 8wk conversational class at my local community college this Fall. I am hoping to have a leg up by the time that class starts...good luck!

7/21/2014, 2:01:28 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

I have the same difficulty with conversation. I live in Southwest USA in a small town in the middle of the desert where many people speak Spanish but I have never heard of anyone who speaks Italian. I am reading and writing Italian much better than developing speaking skills. I should have studied Spanish instead, I guess, but learning Italian was a dream of mine for many years. Sometimes I seem to understand a little of the Spanish around me, I guess because the two languages are very similar. How do you keep them separate when you are studying both? Kudos to you for that!

7/21/2014, 3:02:27 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/hjh414399

Hello: You can learn at any age!! Don't believe the nay sayers. I am 78 and finished the Spanish tree--then the system changed! So I have started all over again--good review too. I do Duo every day--at first I tried for 20 points, then 50 and now I try for at least 100. On discouraging days I will settle for 10 until my spirits/intention/resolve resurfaces. I had studied French previously (Alliance Fran├žes, intermediate level) but that has somewhat confused my learning Spanish--when I'm tired any foreign word will do -- French or Spanish!! I enjoy learning the grammar, the vocabulary and rejoice when I have a correct answer.I used to learn vocabulary by writing the word out 10 times, next day if I didn't have correct word at first try then I'd write the word out 20 times, 3rd day, 30 times etc. Quite the motivator. Using the computer is a different method for me but hey--it works! If "old" = "unable to learn" then how could my Grandmother learn to use the phone? my Mother how to drive? or me to learn Spanish? Besides I have really enjoyed travelling to Mexico or Spain and attending a language school--it is a different sort of holiday and can easily be done on your own. It is true there aren't many older learners in the classes so...... Keep learning! Stay active and have something about which you are passionate--that is really living!

7/31/2018, 8:17:57 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Mitchell_MT
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You are very inspirational. For somebody to learn a language from that old is impressive. I am fortunate to still be young and have the capability to learn languages more easily than others. As a reward, take a lingot!

7/21/2014, 1:52:20 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Thank you.

7/21/2014, 5:35:17 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/robert0n
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Would you like to consider rephrasing your comment?!

7/22/2014, 5:12:32 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/PaulKlenk

Well, I am 66 and a retired teacher. Also, my origin is Deutsch and German was not offered when I was in high school. Enter Duolingo! I am persistent and have maintained a streak of over 230 days, but I've not, as yet, completed the Deutsch tree. I will and then I will continue to review.

It is my understanding that through Duolingo, 2000 vocabulary words are introduced. In order to classified as fluent, another 2000 words are needed.

Duolingo is a splendid learning tool but has taken a counterproductive turn with the mobile application. Now, there is a health concept. If a user is working on a new lesson and continues to make mistakes (very probable), then health continues to diminish. It is highly likely that the lesson will come to an abrupt halt until health is regenerated through the practice of other lessons.

Luis, the CEO, claims that the purpose is to discourage "binge" learning. Luis fails to grasp "trial and error" as a style of learning. And he fails to comprehend that halting progress in the middle of a lesson is counterproductive and discouraging.

Thus, I review on my iPhone, but attack new lessons through the online site.

7/20/2017, 8:59:57 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Nasturium

I am 72 and learning Spanish. I'm not sure where to find out how to use extra points and what are the "trees" etc. Congratulations on your pursuit of Italian. That will be next for me. I am loving this way of using more of my mind. I can almost feel when something has gone from short term to long term memory. I've been using Memrise for several years and it really works well to expand vocabulary. Because of my work on Memrise some of the exercises on Duolingo benefit. I gave you one of my precious Lingot as a salute to your efforts.

7/22/2014, 9:43:35 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/SandyDerau

Hi Nasturium, Welcome to Duolingo! The "Tree" is the menu of skill lessons when you enter your home page. The round yellow circles for each skill. If you scroll down, you can see the entire "tree." I am a very long way from finishing my Italian tree but the joy is in the journey. Thank you for the lingot. Of course you know that you can purchase cool stuff in the lingot store. There's a button to click at the top of your tree. Thank you for saluting my efforts with a lingot. I salute you back! I haven't tried Memrise yet, but I intend to. Good luck with your Spanish!

7/23/2014, 1:28:11 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/nashrambler
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Lingots can be used to purchase an extra heart for when you are doing a lesson and make three mistakes, but you have to make the purchase before you start the lesson. If you don't use it you get to keep it for the next lesson.
What does it feel like when something goes from short to long term memory? Is it a tickle or a stab of pain? For me it is just tiring but satisfying. A brain scientist might tell you it happens when neurons make a lot of cross connections. We make new neurons and new connections even at our age.

7/23/2014, 1:56:26 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Nasturium

It feels like a surprise, a good surprise. There with no conscious effort.

7/23/2014, 3:56:24 PM

https://www.duolingo.com/Branka364444

Good day, I am 58 and would like to thank Duolingo that gave me opportunity to learn and and to make me happy.

9/14/2018, 8:17:06 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Sasha988999

My mother tongue is Serbian, I live in Belgrade, and have been learning Italian on Duolingo for a while. I am 60 and I tend to forget new words because there is no oral practice to support them. I am still at beginner level and can handle Present Tense and one or two modal verbs. I am not retired so I do not have time to learn every day. I visited Italy a month ago, but whenever I wanted to say sth in Italian I actually turned to English as I know it quite well and it was much easier to be efficient in communication.

2/2/2019, 9:57:22 PM
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