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22 years old - too late to learn a new language?
Thread poster: vchampea
Jul 14, 2010

I just finished up my bachelor's degree: BS in Radio/TV/Film, Minor in Asian Studies. This is not exactly something I would choose if I could start all over again, but the past is gone. I must look ahead now. I'm very interested in a career in translation. Unfortunately I did not study a second language in college. I'm thinking about going to graduate school in Japan. I hope that the immersive experience will allow me to learn Japanese quickly and eventually I can make my way into translation. Is this an unrealistic goal? Translators need to be experts in their second language, which takes years of study and experience. I'm determined to work as hard as I can to learn Japanese. What advice do you have for me?

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Anil Gidwani  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:33
German to English
+ ...
Never too late Jul 14, 2010

I think it's never too late to learn a new language. No doubt inertia sets in after a certain age, because learning a new language thoroughly is clearly one of the most strenuous of human activities (while also being the most effortless when learned naturally while growing up!).

22 is certainly not a bad age to learn a new language. Although the college-going age is probably the ideal age.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not too late Jul 14, 2010

Anil Gidwani wrote:

I think it's never too late to learn a new language.


I don't agree that it's never too late. Here in the south of France I'm surrounded by English, Dutch and Scandinavians who retired here and who have never got to grips with the language. I have also been in the unfortunate position of trying to teach French people in their 50s plus who really need to learn English but can't. There comes an age when it simply doesn't "take" - vocabulary and grammar learnt one day has to be relearnt the next.

However, that doesn't apply at all to a 22-year-old. I am sure that immersion training in Japan could result in a good basis for translation.


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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:03
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Never too late! Jul 14, 2010

But it might take some time! You seem to be determined, which is great, but you'll also need to be patient.

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Petra Buric  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:03
Slovenian to English
+ ...
I agree with Mr. Gidwani Jul 14, 2010

I totally agree - it's never too late.
Your willingness and positive approach will even out the years you think you have lost.
From my personal experience I can tell you that it all depends on you and your firm decision.
I wish you all the best!
Take care


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:03
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Certainly not too late, but ... Jul 14, 2010

In my view, it's certainly not too late to learn a new language at the age of 22 - or even when over 50!! Everything depends on the person's eagerness and motivation, on their aptitude for languages generally, and on how much time and effort the student invests in the process.
As regards becoming a translator, it is crucially important to be skilled at expressing yourself in your OWN language (your mother tongue into which you will be translating) - as well as being good at the source language and conversant with the culture of the country concerned. Immerse yourself!
I wish you every success.
Jenny


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Tai Fu  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:03
Chinese to English
if there is a will... Jul 14, 2010

I think it's never too late to learn a new language if you have the will, and there are big benefits to learning additional languages, because companies do like people with multiple language abilities so that they can communicate with more clients.

I am a native speaker of Chinese and English because I grew up with both, but I plan to go to Germany soon to study German. Perhaps it could be another language for me to translate, but that's really not the reason why I want to study German (as the demand for DE-EN is probably less than CH-EN), but I intend to study university there.

Just do what you need to do, the worst thing you can do is sit around and do nothing. It's better to make a wrong choice than to make no choice.

Tai Fu
ich spreche Deutsche sehr schlect...


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 19:03
Swedish to English
+ ...
not too late Jul 14, 2010

I moved to Sweden aged 22 and am now, 15 years later, regularly taken for a native speaker (I've never taken Swedish classes, just listened, read and absorbed the language). And no, I never showed any aptitude for foreign languages before - just ask my long-suffering school teachers. It all depends on your willingness to learn - but I do think immersion is probably the best way of learning as an adult.

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Veronica Lupascu  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:03
Dutch to Romanian
+ ...
Ideal age Jul 14, 2010

Anil Gidwani wrote:

Although the college-going age is probably the ideal age.



I would say up to 2-10 years old, if learned systematically or if leaving in a bilingual environment.

I agree it is never too late. I started studying Greek at the age of 18. I had no idea of Greek language before. I worked very very hard, on a daily basis, trying to learn as much as possible. Colleagues were calling me Greek freak I felt myself confident in Greek after only 3 years of studying. Now I live in Cyprus and this is obviously very helpful. I started understanding the Cypriot dialect, but can not speak it yet. I am not sure I want it

But, on the other side, one year ago I started learning a new language, difficult as well - Dutch. I think I will never be able to speak/write Dutch fluently. I think Dutch grammar is weird but this is my subjective opinion. So, I am not sure that the age is the only factor to be considered when choosing the language you want to study. There should be also a level of compatibility between you and the language. But how to know it before starting studying?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Never too late Jul 14, 2010

vchampea wrote:
I'm thinking about going to graduate school in Japan. I hope that the immersive experience will allow me to learn Japanese quickly and eventually I can make my way into translation.


First, I think it is never too late to learn a new language, although you have an added advantage if you're younger than 5, and a slightly bigger advantage is you're older than 21 (as opposed to being a teenager, whose emotional issues will interfere with the language learning).

Second, your study in Japan won't be immersive unless you're forced to speak Japanese. The fact that you'll be living in Japan will certain help a bit, but unless you specifically study Japanese very hard, you won't "just pick it up" unless you stop speaking English altogether. So while being in Japan will help, I think it needs be coupled with a strict regimen of language (and cultural) studies.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never too late! Jul 14, 2010

Just go ahead, take proper lessons with a native teacher, read a lot in that language, and try to speak it a lot as well.

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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:03
English to French
+ ...
never too late, but ... Jul 14, 2010

vchampea wrote:

I'm very interested in a career in translation. Unfortunately I did not study a second language in college.


Do you mean that you never started to learn a foreign language at school, even at a very basic level ? If so, I am really curious to know why you think that a career in translation could be interesting...

Plus translation is not only about knowing a second language, i.e bilinguism. You have to learn how to transfer the message from one language into the other, and that is a completely different story.


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Mohd shadab  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:33
Hindi to English
+ ...
I appreciate your interest Jul 14, 2010

I must appreciate your interest to learn new language, As all of them already mention that it never late to learn a new language. So please go ahead.

Good Luck.



[Edited at 2010-07-14 08:35 GMT]


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Hans G. Liepert  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 19:03
English to German
+ ...
It's never too late! Jul 14, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I don't agree that it's never too late ... There comes an age when it simply doesn't "take" - vocabulary and grammar learnt one day has to be relearnt the next.

I am sure that immersion training in Japan could result in a good basis for translation.



When I learnt Dutch without any teacher, only by a total immersion in the Dutch environment, I was already 21. Today I'm translating from Dutch and Afrikaans.
When I first arrived in New York, age 28, I hardly understood anybody, though I had 8 years of English at the German gymnasium. Today I'm translating financial and legal texts.

Years later I got a Total Immersion Course from Berlitz in Paris for French and I never had the feeling being too old. Now I'm learning Hebrew lettering, just to read Yiddish books - and I'm 60+.

Learning is depending on various factors, age is just one of them

Kind regards
Hans


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:03
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Never too late Jul 14, 2010

I have met pensioners who at last had time to go to evening classes and learn that language they always dreamed of.

Maybe they don't get to be professional translators, but they can remember principles of grammar they learnt 50 years or so ago, apply them, and become proficient enough to read newspapers and novels, travel, talk to the natives and enjoy the experience.

I believe it is Andrew Dalby who has a theory that being in love helps!
(Somewhere in his book Languages in Danger ???)

The theory is that after childhood there is a window where in early societies young people moved to a different tribes when they found spouses, and a slight accent was considered sexy! Motivation is a great help, anyway.

It certainly worked for me. I came to Denmark aged 27, and I did attend language school, but the immersion method and being in love were certainly no hindrance. (Not to mention my husband travelling on business for two months at a time, leaving me alone!)

I can often pass off as a native, but sooner or later someone asks whether I am Norwegian or where precisely I come from. Whichever accent they know, mine is just a little different.

For so-called B or C languages, as long as you know your limitations, you can still do a professional job even though you are below native level in your source language.

Many of us came to translating later in life, so at 22 the world is your oyster!
It takes hard work, but it certainly pays you back, so best of luck!




[Edited at 2010-07-14 08:50 GMT]


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