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Author Topic: LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE  (Read 2046 times)

Offline ukmicky

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LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE
« on: 20/04/2007 02:11:20 »
The wife works in a primary school and often has to teach children who are recent immigrants to England the English language. She is normally amazed how quickly they pick up English as a second language whilst adults tend to find it very hard.

So my question why do young children find it so easy to learn a second language. Could it be something simple like  because there brainS ain't full of neuron connections going to millions of useless memories.


 

paul.fr

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LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE
« Reply #1 on: 20/04/2007 02:22:49 »

So my question why do young children find it so easy to learn a second language. Could it be something simple like  because there brainS ain't full of neuron connections going to millions of useless memories.

Chris discussed something similar in a podcast/radio show not too long back about languages and the ability to learn them. i can not remember his exact answer but i think it was something along the lines that they make pathways much easier than adults...sorry i could not offer more  :(

personally i think it may be down to enthusiasm and the willingness to learn and try something new. Which is something you dont get too much with some adults.

of course if the child is lazy and easily bored then learning a language will have no interest to him/her and may well be a struggle. like all subjects taught in school they have to be aimed at the younger children in a fun and imaginative way.
 

another_someone

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LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE
« Reply #2 on: 20/04/2007 02:42:51 »
It isn't just enthusiasm.

It is quite well accepted that older people will not learn languages as easily.  Generally, if you learn a language after the age of around 30, you will never get to speak without a foreign accent, even if you can fully comprehend the language.

There are variables that can affect this.  If you have already learnt a number of languages, learning the next one is always easier.  No doubt that if you learnt 6 languages in you first few decades of life, you will find it easier to continue learning languages later in life.

Interestingly, I believe it is easier to learn to sing in another language without a residual accent than it is to learn to talk.

One thing I do suspect also is a factor is what people expect of a language.  A young child has a relatively limited vocabulary in his/her native language, so transferring that vocabulary to a new language is relatively easier.  As an adult, what I often find very frustrating in a new language is that I have an idea that I know how to express in my native language, but cannot express it in the foreign language.  As a child, the fewer ideas one was trying to express had fewer such frustrations.

In general, with most things, children can learn new ideas faster than adults; but then adults can bring more experience to bear, and are more likely to have met a similar situation before (which again comes back to the issue that adults who previously have learnt lots of languages, will bring the experiences from those other languages to the newer language).  Another factor (probably just another way of saying what Michael said about existing neuron connections) is that we learn things by fitting them into our existing mental model of the world around us, and the simpler our existing model is, the easier it is to fit a new idea into that model without breaking the model.
 

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LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE
« Reply #2 on: 20/04/2007 02:42:51 »

 

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