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Saturday, June 22, 2013

By Benny the Irish Polyglot
For complete story, click here

The many reasons (32 so far) why we DON’T succeed in learning languages, and retorts for why we can. Let’s hear your reasons/solutions in the comments!

Today’s post is my serious attempt to collect every possible reason why we don’t learn a language in list format, and to offer possible suggestions to overcome them, or to request your solutions to these problems! I will be updating this list to add new reasons based on your comments.

(Note that in the post after this, I am looking for the opposite to reasons why we can’t and I want to hear your success stories that could potentially inspire millions of people!)
I am genuinely going to try to get the number of reasons and their possible retorts up to the high double digits, because I want there to be no more excuses for us to remain monolingual throughout our lives. Because of this, I will start with what I feel are the main reasons I have heard, or that I believed at the age of 21, and offer a quick thought or link(s) to a possible solution to or reframing of the problem.
If any of these apply to you, please consider my reply to them seriously and follow the links in each point to blog posts where I dive into it in more detail.
As an engineer, I do feel many problems can be looked at analytically and a possible solution offered up when you think about it logically enough!
So without further ado, here are some reasons I have come across, and my suggestions for them.Please reply in the comments below with your own challenges, and other commenters can chime in with their own suggestions! I’m also interested to read other solutions to the reasons I’ve already presented here.
1. I’m too old to learn a language
This old wives’ tale may or may not have been inspired by research showing that Feral children can’t learn a language after a certain age, but when talking about second language learning some research has actually shown that adults are better language learners than children, and my experience has also been that we tend to make these kids-are-better judgements falsely.
I consider myself a vastly superior language learner now than I was at the age of 6, 10, 14 etc., and I’m getting better with age. A good learning strategy, positive attitude and passion can put you very far ahead of those younger than you.
Also, something someone said in one of the comments below: “Kids aren’t better language learners. Ever talk to a 6 year old? They speak fluently but still say things like “funner” and “me and her went…”, and they still have trouble pronouncing a lot of consonants like TH, R, and L. And it took them 6 YEARS to get to this point, and they’re surrounded by it everyday. :D ”
It wouldn’t take me 6 years to fix these mistakes (considering I’m an adult with decades of experience using some language already). So why should we keep claiming children are so much better language learners if the reason to bring the point up is to discourage adult learners? I say that we should encourage everyone. Encourage children to use their advantages, and I’ll try to encourage (with this blog) adults to use their many advantages.
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