Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Adults vs. Kids learning

 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
77 messages over 10 pages: 13 4 5 6 7 ... 2 ... 9 10 Next >>
Lone_Wolf
Groupie
United States
Joined 4214 days ago

60 posts - 117 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 9 of 77
08 May 2013 at 4:35pm | IP Logged 
Hi JacobTM,

I have been thinking about this for the past 3 or 4 days now and I come here to see that you've opened a thread on this issue so I would like to share with you and everyone else here the conclusions I've recently come to on this.

The first thing I wish to do is acknowledge what you had pointed out in your opening post:

Quote:
The real challenge for an adult language learner is finding the time.


I do believe this factors in to the overall belief that it is more difficult for adults to learn foreign languages than it is for children and I am certain MOST OF THAT has to do with jobs and careers for adults. Along with lack of time, we might as well throw in there STRESS, BILLS, CAR PAYMENTS, etc. In essence, the things we adults have to deal with that children do not have to deal with.

Now, having gotten that out of the way, I want to say that I DO NOT think it is generally more difficult for an adult to learn foreign languages than it is for children to learn them AS LONG AS the adults learn how to refrain from doing the ONE THING that children naturally refrain from doing. This ONE THING is what I think gives children the advantage over the adults and that is to NOT TRY AND MAKE SENSE OF EVERYTHING (the mechanics of the foreign language that is)!! What I mean by this is to not try to over analyze and make sense of things based on the framework of one's mother tongue. I think lots of times this is where most adults go wrong and either slow down their own progress or outright fail at their foreign language learning.

So, it is best if we somehow learn to bypass the "Analytical Mind" and let the foreign language "Reveal Itself" to us NATURALLY in the same manner that our mother tongues had revealed themselves to us naturally. Just let it fall into place over time just like our mother tongues did. I think the best way to do this is to start one's foreign language learning by collecting "Language Chunks", i.e. phrases, common expressions, idioms and sentences. Especially the oft repeated phrase such as I want, I need, What is, where is, How do you, How do I and all of the vocabularies that behave as "fillers" for these oft repeated phrases.

Mind you, I am not advising that a person bypasses grammar. Simply, it is my personal opinion that a person should not BEGIN to learn a language through grammar. I personally think heavy grammar studying would suit us best AFTER we have NATURALLY gotten a grasp of the language through language chunks. As far as I see it, grammar lessons only explain WHY and HOW we say things the way we do. By the time we started grammar studies in school as children (or at least here in the U.S.) we already had a pretty firm grasp of our native language. The only thing most 3rd, 4th and 5th grade children lack are a huge vocabulary like we adults have, but by that stage they still know how to GRAMMATICALLY USE their native language with the size vocabulary that they do have. I seriously envy children who grow up in bilingual or even multilingual environments because they are in the best position to pursue the path that I recommend and there is no need for a bilingual Spanish and English speaking child in Arizona or Nevada to compare and make sense of one language based on the framework of the other language. That child simply realizes that there are differences between the two languages and allows each language to reveal themselves to her in a natural, osmosis manner.

But here's the really tricky part of my position and explanation. What I had just explained is what I believe works best FOR ME. And while I do think this is the most logical strategy for adult foreign language learners to pursue, I also realize and fully respect the fact that we are all wired differently and what may work for me may not work for the next person. What makes perfect sense to me may not make any sense whatsoever to the next person.

Because there simply isn't a "One Size Fits All" formula for foreign language learning, I do know that it is best for each language student to cast his or her line into the sea and fish out the best tools, methods, courses and strategies for them. The only thing I am trying to point out is that based on my own pondering on this issue for a few days now I do believe what I had explained above is the key issue of the difference in ease or difficulty of language learning between children and adults (in addition to the things that are unique to adults as JacobTM and I had pointed out).

But in general, barring a severe case of dementia or Alzheimer's I do not think there is any so-called age limit for foreign language learning. If anything, based on a research article I had read some years back, activities such as foreign language learning and doing crossword puzzles as an adult build up and strengthen your cerebral muscle to help PREVENT dementia and Alzheimer's.
5 persons have voted this message useful



mikonai
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
weirdnamewriting.bloRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3837 days ago

178 posts - 281 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian
Studies: Swahili, German

 
 Message 10 of 77
08 May 2013 at 4:42pm | IP Logged 
casamata wrote:
Wow, great post. Are you or were you a linguistics major in college?
Could you include some of the links of the studies that came to these conclusions?


Thank you! Yes, I'm currently majoring in linguistics, though I'm not sure what to do
with it once I'm done (continue being a language nerd, I suppose).

I'm not entirely sure of all of the studies... I don't seem to have written it down
properly: my bad! Additionally, what with the paywalls and things that are on major
databases now, you may have difficulty finding them anyway. However, I did find
this relevant article:

http://csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/Proceedings/2006/docs/p2293 .pdf

You might find more information and studies in the references, if you're interested. I
would love to research it more myself to help, but we're on the last two weeks of
school and I'd hate to fail my classes now.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 4440 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 11 of 77
08 May 2013 at 4:51pm | IP Logged 
schoenewaelder wrote:
[edit: Obviously I'm thinking along the lines of ideal conditions here, i.e. immersion. I guess in the typical school classroom situation, adults probably are better than children. But I'm just thinking of all those "start a new life in another country" programmes I've seen, where the kids usually speak like natives after 6 months in school, while the adults are still unable to do the basics after yearsof immersion]

Do you have any examples of this? I'm trying to imagine an adult starting a new life in a new country, immersed constantly for years, who doesn't manage to learn the local language. Where do they live? How do they eat? Don't human beings develop serious psychological issues if they go for years without speaking to anybody?

In my experience, adults fall into two categories:

1) Immersed. They work (and often live) with native speakers. These people almost always wind up near-native speaking skills after 5 years or so, though most of them keep a slight accent and some continue to make grammar mistakes.

2) Living in an L1 bubble. These folks can go forever without learning 10 words of the local language, if they so desire.

Kids generally can't get away with (2), because they have to go to school in the local language. But I certainly know of kids of who grew up in Saudi Arabia without learning any Arabic, because they spent nearly all their time living in compounds and going to school with English speakers.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Lone_Wolf
Groupie
United States
Joined 4214 days ago

60 posts - 117 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 12 of 77
08 May 2013 at 5:26pm | IP Logged 
I meant to add in my post that bypassing the analytical mind, I think this helps very much in THINKING in the foreign language instead of translating in one's head between two languages. Thinking in a language is the key to speaking fluently and understanding spoken language.

One last thing I wish to add concerning foreign languages and I am speaking on everything that has to do with the function of a language, especially vocabulary. There is a difference between memorization and INTERNALIZATION. I don't want to "memorize" foreign language vocabulary and expressions, I want to internalize them and make them a part of me. Learning a language naturally and letting it reveal itself over time through natural interaction can contribute to such a thing.

Edited by Lone_Wolf on 08 May 2013 at 5:27pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



casamata
Senior Member
Joined 3170 days ago

237 posts - 377 votes 
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 13 of 77
08 May 2013 at 7:07pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
schoenewaelder wrote:
[edit: Obviously I'm thinking along the lines of ideal conditions here, i.e. immersion. I guess in the typical school classroom situation, adults probably are better than children. But I'm just thinking of all those "start a new life in another country" programmes I've seen, where the kids usually speak like natives after 6 months in school, while the adults are still unable to do the basics after yearsof immersion]

Do you have any examples of this? I'm trying to imagine an adult starting a new life in a new country, immersed constantly for years, who doesn't manage to learn the local language. Where do they live? How do they eat? Don't human beings develop serious psychological issues if they go for years without speaking to anybody?

In my experience, adults fall into two categories:

1) Immersed. They work (and often live) with native speakers. These people almost always wind up near-native speaking skills after 5 years or so, though most of them keep a slight accent and some continue to make grammar mistakes.

2) Living in an L1 bubble. These folks can go forever without learning 10 words of the local language, if they so desire.

Kids generally can't get away with (2), because they have to go to school in the local language. But I certainly know of kids of who grew up in Saudi Arabia without learning any Arabic, because they spent nearly all their time living in compounds and going to school with English speakers.


I second this. I do know some people that have lived in the US for many years, like 10+ years but don't speak English very well at all. However, they isolated themselves in their native languages, which were actually relatively similar to English. (Spanish)

If somebody tries and does 100% immersion, it's going to be hard to find somebody that is terrible in the new language if they have been living abroad for 10 years! Some do still have a strong accent or still talk improperly due to lack of language and grammar lessons, but they are still fairly strong speakers.
1 person has voted this message useful



osoymar
Tetraglot
Pro Member
United States
Joined 3644 days ago

190 posts - 344 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Portuguese, Japanese
Studies: Spanish, French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 14 of 77
08 May 2013 at 7:57pm | IP Logged 
Immersed vs. L1 bubble is a good theoretical dichotomy, but in practice no adult
learner will ever start a language fully immersed. The only situations I can imagine
where immersion happens before starting a language would be something like (a) a
political refugee escaping his captors and somehow ending up in a country with none of
his fellow countrymen or (b) me winning the lottery, moving to Finland on a visa
granted to me just because I'm charming, and claiming I don't speak English.

You can immerse yourself after starting a language, but by that point most learners
will have some false patterns and false pronunciation fossilized, and realistically for
most people it's not worth the effort to recover from these false patterns as long as
they don't hinder communication to a significant degree. The pressure to fit in is much
stronger with children.

I'm not arguing about whether immersion is necessary for complete acquisition of a
foreign language, just pointing out that adult learners will always have a different
set of circumstances from young learners, apart from any differences that may or may
not exist in mental capacity.
1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 3441 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 15 of 77
08 May 2013 at 8:28pm | IP Logged 
osoymar wrote:

You can immerse yourself after starting a language, but by that point most learners
will have some false patterns and false pronunciation fossilized, and realistically for
most people it's not worth the effort to recover from these false patterns as long as
they don't hinder communication to a significant degree. The pressure to fit in is much
stronger with children.


This probably depends on the circumstances for adults. When my mother and grandmother immigrated to Australia in the 1940s they were under a lot of pressure to give up their Lithuanian-ness and fit in. As I grew up my mother and grandmother didn't even speak Lithuanian to each other much if at all.

Here in Berlin you can be just another foreigner with bad language skills and no one really notices. Not that's really good, but there isn't the same pressure.
1 person has voted this message useful



JacobTM
Groupie
United States
Joined 4506 days ago

56 posts - 67 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 16 of 77
08 May 2013 at 10:27pm | IP Logged 
It's really interesting that no one really has any studies about this.

I'm currently in a M.A. in TESOL and it is absolutely the Word of God amongst my
teachers and peers that children are better learners than adults.

There is 100% no convincing them that adults can effectively learn languages. Most of
the people in my program are either raised bi-lingual or are monolinguals who have
unsuccessfully tried to learn a second language (studied abroad 1 semester somewhere,
don't really remember much).

So for them, EVERYONE knows that only kids can learn languages.

But it would be nice to at least show them some scientific studies about this process.
Because of course, it sounds like nothing but excuses to me.

Edited by JacobTM on 08 May 2013 at 10:33pm



2 persons have voted this message useful



This discussion contains 77 messages over 10 pages: << Prev 13 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.6572 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2021 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.