We are lucky! English is the language the most people speak and want to learn, but does that mean we don’t have to bother learning another language?

It doesn’t help that British adults do not excel at learning a language. Only around 20% speak another language well, and most of us believe a language is easier learnt at a younger age. I disagree. I was 39 when I learnt French and I believe motivation, not age is the key factor that determines success.

In my early 20’s I met many European people who spoke not only their own language, but English (well!) and possibly another language too. I was inspired but it wasn’t until my late 30’s I dragged my school French from the depths of my brain and studied French once a week at evening classes. I soon realised that in order to speak it really well, I would need to live there.

I took an intensive course to teach English as a foreign language (Celta) and moved there in hope of finding work. Four years later I had learnt French, taught English and made fantastic friends I would never have made if I hadn’t spoken their native language. Learning French also made me more interested in the nuances and origins of my own language.

My friend Anna was 56 when she decided to start learning German. Divorced, with grown up children, she found herself free and wanting a new challenge. She started learning at evening classes and after one year took the plunge and went to live in Germany. She rented an apartment and found a job in a gift shop to practise her German. She stayed a year, made friends and surprised herself by falling in love with a German man and settling in Hamburg.

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