Fortean Times - - Strange Days - by Mat Cow­ard

The myth

It is eas­ier, and faster, to learn a for­eign lan­guage when you are a child than when you are grown-up.

The “truth”

This widely ac­cepted piece of com­mon sense folk knowl­edge has been tested by many re­searchers in many set­tings, and al­ways found to be un­true. Not only is there no ev­i­dence that chil­dren learn lan­guages faster than adults, but there’s quite a bit to sug­gest that it’s adults who have the ad­van­tage. Adults un­der­stand the pro­cesses of learn­ing bet­ter and have de­vel­oped mem­ory tech­niques. They look for pat­terns when learn­ing a lan­guage, and ap­ply them, and have much more ex­pe­ri­ence in do­ing so than chil­dren. Some stud­ies even show that chil­dren who start learn­ing a sec­ond lan­guage at se­condary school do bet­ter than those who start at pri­mary school. One rea­son for the en­durance of the myth is per­haps that suc­cess is judged dif­fer­ently in adults and chil­dren; kids use sim­pler sen­tences and a smaller vo­cab­u­lary than adults do. For a grown-up to be con­sid­ered pro­fi­cient in a sec­ond tongue, she’ll be ex­pected to demon­strate a more so­phis­ti­cated and com­plete com­mand of it.


https://peo­; www.brain­ blog/2015/12/adults-kids-learn-lan­guages/; www.tele­ ed­u­ca­tion/ed­u­ca­tionopin­ion/10315238/Are-chil­dren-re­ally-bet­ter-at­for­eign-lan­guage-learn­ing.html; www.ef­fec­tive­lan­guage­learn­ lan­guage-learn­ing-tips/lan­guage-learn­ing-myths


Je ne haben el ex­per­tise of any sort in this sub­ject, so if you have cor­rec­tions or ob­jec­tions to make to any of the above please trans­late them care­fully into Vo­la­puk and send them to FT.


In the 19th cen­tury, an FT reader has al­ways un­der­stood, Lon­don­ers used to get rid of sewer gas by burn­ing it in spe­cial street lamps. But now she’s been told that sewer lamps never ran on sewer gas. Con­fused, and pos­si­bly a lit­tle nau­seous, she asks if any stu­dents of Vic­to­ri­ana who hap­pen to be waft­ing past this col­umn might set­tle the mat­ter for her.

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