by John Hanes
Children learn a new language with the greatest of ease. They simply need to be exposed to it, use it in context and they automatically learn without any explicit instruction. Adults on the other hand have a much harder time.
In this post we’ll discuss differences between human and animal learning and what it takes to learn a second language as an adult.
I. What do you think is the best way to learn a language? How much does each contribute?
A. Studying grammar and vocabulary and doing practice exercises.
B. Speaking and listening with fluent speakers of the language.
C. Reading and watching shows, films, and listening to music.
D. Online writing activities like chatting and Facebook.
E. Spending time: using it frequently a little each day or using it in large chunks of time like on a trip to the country where the language is spoken.
II. How is children’s learning different from adults’?
First let’s starts with what makes humans unique.
Why do children perform unnecessary actions?
How does the ability to be actively taught makes us different from other animals?
(It may seem strange to refer to people as animals. Sometimes calling a person an animal is an insult. But humans are composed of animal cells, i.e. we aren’t plants or fungi, we can agree that we’re mammals because we all drink mother’s milk, so then we are animals since all mammals are in the animal kingdom.)
How does language affect the differences between human and non-human animals?
How different would people be without language? Would you still consider us to be human?
Why do you think learning a second language is so much more difficult than learning a first?
Why do humans have so many languages and is it possible to learn all of them?
Many linguistics say each of us has an idiolect, our own private language. What do think that means? Do you think your version of your native tongue is unique to you or is nearly identical to others in your speech community?