English Courses in England for 50+
English courses for over 50s are an increasingly popular choice for those looking to learn English and gain language confidence while learning about local culture. We look at the example of Eastbourne on the south coast of England. It’s one of the most popular places for over 50s to learn and the perfect place to explore because of the beautiful Sussex countryside, villages, castles and gardens.
Am I too Old to Learn English?
Absolutely not! You’re never too old to learn a new skill. Besides, studies have shown that learning a language actually helps the brain’s development regardless of how old you are. ‘The Annals of Neurology’ (Volume 75, Issue 6, pages 959-963, June 2014); a journal that focuses on the human nervous system, explores whether speaking a second language affects how your brain ages. They’ve found that learning a second language not only helps the brain stay stronger for longer but is also helps delay dementia deeper into old age.
The Journal also goes on to say that the effects of being bilingual has on the brain is not linked to any other factors like 'gender, socioeconomic status or immigration'. In fact they could find no negative effects of speaking another language on the brain at all. The article describes how learning a second language actually helps more with your reading, speaking and general intelligence than your memory, ability to reason and how fast you can think (although it helps with those too!).
I know it's not always easy. Learning a new language can be very challenging but we know that it can provide a boost for the brain and keep it active. Mo Costandi, a writer for the Guardian and neuroscientist, believes that 'Picking up a new language's vocabulary is much easier for adults than learning the' grammar rules, accents or sounds. As you already know one language you just match up the new word you are learning with the same word in your own language. But it does mean that there are some sounds in other languages you just might never be able to make, like how some people can roll their 'R's and others can't. This is because when you are younger it's easier to pick up accents and new sounds as you are still learning to make them yourself. When you are older you have already learnt your own way of speaking.
Another thing you have to overcome is being embarrassed when you speak. Erik Zen, a linguistics graduate who learned the English language later on, thinks that because as adults we like to know how things work we have more pride than children in what we can do, so when we find something very difficult like learning a new language we might not want to do it because we don't want to be embarrassed.
Overall, though, there are so many benefits for your brain, it is definitely worth learning another language.
How do I chose an English School?
There are a number of English Schools offering English courses for over 50s, 40s and 30s in the UK. A must for any English course you attend is that they help you feel confident especially in your spoken English and not embarrassed at making mistakes. They must also have an understanding of the different needs of older learners, allowing more time to process information. For these reasons Eastbourne School of English has long been attended by many older students on our 50+ course.
What’s included in a typical English course for 50+?
Generally for a 50+ course you will want something that allows you time and space to learn English, in dedicated lessons. You would also want some time to explore and experience the place around you. Eastbourne School of English has a fantastic example of how a 50+ course should be structured. Typically courses include a full morning programme of lessons to learn English, and then a dedicated 50+ social and cultural programme in the afternoons and at the weekend with other students of a similar age.
Sussex, where the school is located, is one of the most beautiful places in England! The surrounding villages seem untouched by time, still holding that quaint British charm of historic England. Little village shops line the narrow cobbled streets while some of the oldest churches in the UK sit among stone cottages with beautiful flower gardens and rustic vegetable patches.
Alfriston, Lindfield, Rye, Firle, Cuckfield, Winchelsea, Ditchling, West Dean, East Dean, Arundel, Steyning, Kingston-by-Lewes and Rottingdean: these are all beautiful villages surrounding the Sussex area, if you could pick just one to visit (and that would be a hard choice) we would go with Alfriston. It has one of the best experiences of a British village in the UK and is certainly one of our favourites.
Brighton and the Brighton Festival
Sometimes called ‘London by the Sea’, Brighton (another Sussex city located on the south coast) attracts 8 million tourists a year! Among the many attractions and events, the Brighton Festival is one of the most exciting. Every year the city celebrates its creative culture, putting on events across Brighton in dance, theatre, music, literature, fine art, film and much more! The Brighton Festival lasts for three weeks every May and is spread throughout Brighton and Hove
Arundel & Castle
Arundel Castle was established on Christmas Day 1067, by a cousin of William the Conqueror and has been open to the public for over 200 years. Itis nowadays the home of the Dukes of Norfolk. Besides its huge 40 acre grounds, it is home to exceptionally beautiful and valuable art works, furniture, tapestries, china, paintings, stained glass, clocks, carvings and sculptures. The grand interiors are lined with heraldry and armour.
Over the last 20 or so years the Duke and Duchess have re-modelled the grounds and gardens as an organic kitchen garden. The designs, carried out in a Jacobean formal garden, have been based on those of Inigo Jones. In the centre of the gardens is a rockwork ‘mountain’ covered with exotic palms and rare ferns and right at the top of it lies ‘Oberon’s Palace’ a golden crown lined with shells that takes its place at the head of a fountain.
England has some of the most stunning places to live and to study anywhere. Where else are you able to learn the modern English Language with the opportunity to experience so much culture and heritage at the same time. Wherever you end up going, do remember not to be embarrassed! And make sure the course caters specifically for your experience as well as the focus in speaking English.
Why not take a look at our course for 50+ here? We do have 80 years’ experience as a language school.