Thursday, July 23, 2009

Learning Languages is Not A New Thing 3

Keith kindly left a comment on my last post that allows me to tie up this theme for now.
I hope that some day I will have a chance to learn a language like this. I would find 2 really talkative people to live with and hang around for a year while I listen to and watch everything going on. They would even talk to me but I would not be expected to talk back.

I couldn't have put it better myself, not only would I also be interested in such an experiment, if you think about it this is exactly how a child starts to learn their own language. As time goes by the child is expected to participate but expectations are low and the amount of input is high,

So learning language is not a new thing, not just because people have been doing it for many thousands of years but also because we have all done it before.

Keith takes my thoughts one step further than I was intending with his latest post. Experience tells me that Keith is correct, but that doesn't mean I am right of course. I want to spend some time investigating the research behind the erroneous (I think) proposal that adults are at such a big disadvantage learning new languages.

6 comments:

Frances said...

I suspect that the biggest disadvantage adults might have in language learning is motivation. In all but the most extreme situations, we're able to retreat to the language we already know when going gets tough. If we cannot understand what someone is saying to us, we are usually able to walk away and decide we don't need to understand.

Very small children cannot choose to disengage, and breaking the language code is one of their best ways to gain some sense of control in a very scary world. They are very highly motivated learners.

Chris said...

@Frances I think you are probably correct, also apart from children, people throughout history have had very pressing reasons to learn a language.

Keith said...

There is a problem with the way conclusions are drawn. That is, look at the results and draw a conclusion. Such as seeing all the adult speakers of a foreign language with accents and concluding that adults cannot attain a native-sounding accent in a foreign language. Or the conclusion that was in the article I wrote a post about, As an adult, "it's a totally different process. You won't learn it in the same way. You won't become (as good as) a native speaker."

Looking at the quote again, I have to admit, it doesn't say you can't learn it in the same way, but that is the impression I get when I think about what they are saying.

By looking at what Dr. Marvin Brown wrote about ALG, we see that if adults learn foreign languages in the same way as children, they can be as good as a native speaker, including accent.

1ondoncalling said...

I think your local environment plays an important role in language acquisition.

If you come from a place where people speak a lot of different languages, dialects. You will pick these things up naturally, no matter how old you are.

Sprachreisen Malta said...

I am completely agree with Frances.

Motivation is the only thing which can help to be prepare for anything. When it comes to language we think usually that it's so tough to learn another language.

I would add here that it's not as tough as you think. It's easy but it needs your concentration.

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