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Learning like a child learns their native

  Tags: Children
 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
49 messages over 7 pages: 1 2 3 46 7  Next >>
ExRN
Groupie
United Kingdom
Joined 1470 days ago

61 posts - 75 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, Spanish
Studies: Dutch

 
 Message 33 of 49
17 August 2015 at 12:40am | IP Logged 
Well I'm hoping to carry on and on with language acquisition and move each language that I learn further
back each one I learn. For example.... I have native English now but I wish to overtake that with Spanish
and Italian. If I can get to the stage of thinking in one of those languages and create a habit of doing so, I
am sure it will be possible. In Spain I lived with Scandinavians who primarily spoke in English. I am
confident that English was takibg over their lives as they worked in it and lived in it. Maybe I am Just
dreaming or maybe it is possible. Only time can tell I guess....
1 person has voted this message useful



aokoye
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3616 days ago

235 posts - 453 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese

 
 Message 34 of 49
17 August 2015 at 2:44am | IP Logged 
Yeah I met someone who is a native English speaker and has a BA in linguistics. On somewhat of a
whim she, her husband (who is a web developer, and her two children (the oldest who was 2 years
old at the time), up and moved to Oslo. They were able to do so because he was got a position at a
software company in Norway and part of the reason why she wanted to move is because she
essentially wanted to see what would happen linguistically if she raised her children in Norway.

She managed to learn the language quick enough and well enough to become qualified to teach in a
Norwegian language Montessori school (mind you she had a very good basis in German so it wasn't a
giant leap) and I'm pretty sure that the primary language that was spoken in their home was
Norwegian - I know it was the language she spoke with her children (she and her husband had a third
child while they were there).

From what I can tell (and we talked about this at length, while her English wasn't as good as it was
when she left, when she and her family came back to the US five (or was it seven) years later there
was no adjustment she had to make nor her husband. Her linguistic faculties weren't somehow taken
over by Norwegian to the extent that it totally decimated her English despite the fact that she was
teaching in Norwegian (to children whose first language was Norwegian), talking to her friends and
family in Norwegian, and probably primarily using English to help her kids with their English
homework. She told me that at the time that they left her youngest's Norwegian was far better than
her child's English.

What did happen was that her kids basically refused to speak Norwegian once they got back to the
States. Remember, the eldest was 24 months when they moved to Norway and her youngest was
born there. The eldest may have had some Norwegian as a second language schooling but otherwise
they were all in school with Norwegians and the primary language of education was Norwegian. She
occasionally should get them to speak Norwegian but with zero opportunities to do so in Portland her
kids' persistence quickly won out. This was probably helped by the fact that they were in Norway and
thus her kids started learning English in school very very early.

That isn't to say that my friend wasn't a near-native speaker of Norwegian because she was. She was
teaching at a school in Norway and the only language of instruction was Norwegian. That functioning
at a very high level of Norwegian all the time didn't wipe out or overtake her English in the least.
4 persons have voted this message useful



Speakeasy
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2127 days ago

456 posts - 1067 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 35 of 49
18 August 2015 at 12:05am | IP Logged 
It's time to add some silliness into the discussion:

In some cases, “learning like a child” can depend on the child’s opportunity and willingness to learn his erstwhile native language, or not.

A friend of mine and his younger brother were raised as second-generation Japanese-Canadians in predominantly English-Speaking Vancouver, B.C. Their mother spoke Japanese-accented English and their father, whose work required his frequent and extended absence, had neither the opportunity nor the interest, according to the first-born, to learn English and remained unilingual Japanese-speaking all his life.   

My friend learned his “mother-tongue” from his mother and, later in life, moved to Japan for a number of years with a view to perfecting his Japanese and to connecting with his cultural and linguistic roots. In contrast, his younger brother, by only a couple of years, steadfastly refused to learn his “mother-tongue”. Apparently, early on, his mother yielded to the younger son’s demands and always addressed the second-born in English, all the while continuing to speak Japanese to the first-born.

Ultimately, the father retired and spent much more of his time at home. Since the father still spoke no English, either the mother or the first-born son had to serve as interpreters between the second-born and the father. So, “learning like a child” is not always that evident.


Edited by Speakeasy on 18 August 2015 at 12:08am

3 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3084 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 36 of 49
18 August 2015 at 2:09am | IP Logged 
The English natives are a special case, they are very unlikely to lose contact with their native language in most parts of the world. Czech emigrants during the Cold War were a totally different case. Even today, in the era of the internet, it is not that easy to keep in touch with such a minor language, if your whole life happens in a different one, it must have been near impossible back then.

Thinking in a language and losing your native one are two different things. It is definitely possible to start thinking in another language, it is actually a natural part of the learning process. But it is still no reason to lose the native one. Separation from your native country/culture/people is.

However, it is possible to "lose" some of the skills even without such an extreme situation. Many people do not practice writing more complex texts than sms or emails during the years and decades after school. Therefore it becomes harder, they make more mistakes and the style is worse. It can certainly happen to be worse writer of one's native language than of another language, if you happen to write in it more regularily. It happened to me, for example.
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Speakeasy
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2127 days ago

456 posts - 1067 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 37 of 49
18 August 2015 at 4:59am | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
The English natives are a special case, they are very unlikely to lose contact with their native language in most parts of the world.

I have come to appreciate that having learned English as a child accorded me an "unfair advantage" in life, in that it spared me from -- what must be the case for at least some non-native English speakers -- the onerous and perhaps even distasteful task of learning a second language that many would have preferred to avoid, had economic circumstances not obliged them to learn it. I can easily understand, and empathize with, the resentment of those who view learning a dominant language as an unjust burden.

And yes, English is, indeed, "hard to get away from"; so much so that, this has the perverse effect of removing some of the pleasure for me during my travels throughout much of Western Europe. I would greatly prefer to engage the locals in my halting Dutch, Spanish, Italian, or even my rudimentary Polish; however, as soon as they detect my accent (which is impossible to miss), they automatically switch to English. I find this even more frustrating whilst speaking German, where my level is easily a sound B2, and even more so whilst speaking French, a language to which I totally converted some 28 years ago.

But back to "learning as a child"; yes, I suspect that it would be extremely difficult for a native-English-speaker to lose contact with their language to the point of no longer mastering it. During my infrequent visits to my relatives in Vancouver, occasionally I find myself translating rapidly from French to English or halting abruptly while I search for a common word or expression in English; however, this hardly constitutes my having forgotten my mother-tongue. Although I really haven't spoken English for 28 years, I simply cannot get away from it and I am unlikely to forget it.

Edited by Speakeasy on 18 August 2015 at 5:00am

3 persons have voted this message useful



phonology
Groupie
Peru
Joined 1787 days ago

40 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: Spanish*

 
 Message 38 of 49
20 August 2015 at 10:13am | IP Logged 
ExRN wrote:
Obviously we are born with a blank sheet when it comes to language and
the majority of us pick up our
tongue from associations and observations. I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't
spend any of my
early years studying grammar books and doing anki flashcards......
My question is....... If I got a large collection of children's television programs
from my target languages
and watched them whilst cutting English out of my life as much as possible, would this
work?
After a year of watching children's television I would move on to watching teen level
things and reading at
that level too. Would this be a more natural way to learn rather than memorising
grammar and phrases
from tapes? If I learnt my language in this way, surely that means my brain has already
got the skills it
needs to do another and another in the same way. Why change the method of something
that has worked
previously? Isn't it like teaching someone how to drive in a certain way and then once
they have passed
they decide to drive in the passenger seat instead?


I think language is learned as a child once in life according to Noam Chomsky.

Noam Chomsky on Language Aquisition (English)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cgpfw4z8cw

Adquisición del lenguaje (Spanish)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZptRCRvHJOg
1 person has voted this message useful



ExRN
Groupie
United Kingdom
Joined 1470 days ago

61 posts - 75 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, Spanish
Studies: Dutch

 
 Message 39 of 49
20 August 2015 at 10:15am | IP Logged 
I admit I am wrong. I thought it was a good idea though :-/
1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3084 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 40 of 49
20 August 2015 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
The idea of learning with tons of input, especially lots of tv series, is a good one. I recommend looking in the logs or learners like emk. Many of us have experienced awesome chunks of progress thanks to tv series. I just think you shouldn't expect from it something else than it is or dwell too much on the ideas of what do children learn like as you are not a child anymore. Use your strengths of an adult.

The bright side: without trying to mimic the children, you are now free to choose whatever material you want. Would you trully enjoy series aimed at children so much? Popular choice for intermediate learners are dubbed tv series (there are differences in quality of dubbing, I recommend looking for recommendations and reviews on the forum for start) or things like crime series. The most difficult tend to be sitcoms and some of the historical series, I'd say. But the perceived difficulty may vary significatnly among individual learners.


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