Children learn new languages quickly because the brain is still growing until about age 20, said Fatjona Rama Lubonja, a visiting scholar at Atlantic Cape Community College.

But that doesn’t mean older people can’t learn a foreign language.

“I’m 100 percent sure that’s not true,”said the Northfield resident, who was born in Albania, went to college in Italy and speaks six languages. She learned both English and German after age 20 and, at age 44, is now learning Spanish, she said.

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“Americans have difficulties because (for the most part) only English is spoken here,” Lubonja said. “It’s very important to listen to other languages,” she said.

Older people have to put more effort into a new language, because learning is a conscious process that takes discipline and resolution, she said. Young children, on the other hand, learn by assimilation, an unconscious process.

Lubonja, who is pursuing a master’s degree in neuroscience and education at Columbia University and an Ed.D. in education leadership at Rowan University, has been living in the United States for 12 years. She said she felt like a real American when she spoke English in Rome and someone recognized her New Jersey accent.

“I was amazed. I said, ‘I am so happy. I’m a Jersey girl now,’” she said.

Her husband, Genti Lubonja, is an alternative medicine therapist.

If you go

Fatjona Lubonja will present “Globalization & Multiculturalism: Influences in Our Language and Culture,” 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in Room 204 at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Charles D. Worthington Campus, 1535 Bacharach Blvd., Atlantic City.


Still playing, crocheting at 106

Helen Graham Turner turns 106 today. She’s an avid Rummikub player who teaches fellow residents at Brandywine Senior Living at Brandall Estates in Linwood how to play the game, a center spokesperson said.

Turner rode to high school in a horse and buggy, traveled around the world, and was a Margate elementary school teacher for 38 years. Turner belongs to the Children’s Seashore House Auxiliary, for which she volunteered for years, and the Northfield Garden Club, and she crochets blankets for premature babies at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.

Wind ensemble wins regionals

The Southern Regional Honors Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Kevin Moninghoff, recently placed first at the annual All-South Jersey Concert Band Competition. They will advance to the state competition at Rutgers University on May 5.


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