Why do kids learn a new language faster?

beneficii   Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:51 am GMT
It was from this page that I found out about alljapaneseallthetime.com:

http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t7111-15.htm
Xie   Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:54 am GMT
>>A child doesn't need to make any effort at all to speak a language fluently. They may make some occasional mistakes and have to be corrected, but they handle the process with ease. Adults have to struggle to learn until they reach a near-native level.

People tend to put up a lot of resistance to learning a language completely unless they have a deep desire to learn the language. [...]

For me, it's entirely a political thing. Certain pragmatic stuff is keeping adults in every corner of the world from learning "foreign" languages. It's to be learnt consciously, thus the possibility of becoming analytic, and often people have to pay to learn, and no one wants to *pay*. I said I wouldn't bash all kinds of commercial initiatives, but here it is: in university or in language X institutes or in class or whatever, with all the limitations the antimoon webmasters or other language guys on the net have named in great detail, apparently language learning has often become some sort of hairshirt work for many, esp. the unmotivated. And even if you are determined, you have to struggle with those commercial initiatives and pragmatic stuff (when you say you learn language X, people often assume you must know a lot, and you might feel embarrassed, or whatnot).

So, if you compare the contemporary learning trends with *the ways* of the *dead white men*, i.e. the classical ways and aims of language learning for literary people/figures/university students of past centuries (no racism intended; it's simply history), you might be disappointed. While modern technology and int'l trade have actually attributed to factors that favour language learning (in the past, people had to go abroad to learn), the general de-motivating factors would be cultural prejudices or "practical" concerns or disappointment or whatnot. It's just quite important to try to think out of the box...
Guest   Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:55 am GMT
Well, whatever you want, BUT, that author suffers from inconstancy. He preaches 'just doing it' instead of spending hours reading 'theories and talking ABOUT the language', but here he is, spending hours DOING PRECISELY THAT, managing a whole blog dedicated to confounding theories, and inflicting more harm on people than he will alleviate, it took me a lot of time to read his article, and I was precisely furious afterwards, because I couldn't study Japanese for that time while I was reading!
Guest   Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:56 am GMT
That post above by Guest was aimed as a rebuttal for beneficii's response to my allegation.
Xie   Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:01 pm GMT
Guest, I think you may discuss that in another thread in the English board instead.

Yet, my answer: Your question might be philosophical. If he isn't motivated to start and manage a blog, I don't know, he might feel bad for NOT writing something to let everyone know about what he's been doing and thinking about. But I often ask myself: if people like him (no, I appreciate what he writes, at least what he writes is decent enough, unlike the "argue-your-heads-off" posts, as he suggests, you could see elsewhere) don't say anything about this, how am I going to understand that?

I've been glad to see such blogs/sites becoming famous among us language enthusiasts.
beneficii   Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:26 pm GMT
Ah, a good discussion! Anyway, to begin,

Xie,

True about that. About language learning being made easier, I heard, too, that since language learning still takes dedication over a long period of time something that is easy to do is also easy not to do. I think you were aiming in this direction?

Guest,

Ah! A much better point from you! I do agree, and as much as I enjoy reading his statements in English, I do wish he could put more into Japanese. The Antimoon people are much better about this, since they put at a native level the target language of its learners all over their site. I don't see any Polish outside of the forums on Antimoon.com. Perhaps we should make that point?

Xie,

He is very devoted and I enjoy reading his posts. Still, I find Guest's objection understandable as I do wish he could put more of his posts in the target language of the site's learners.

I wish he really really really truly could put posts like "Classes suck," "Just Do It," and other such motivational points that discuss his theories in Japanese. That would really truly rock!
Xie   Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:02 pm GMT
>I heard, too, that since language learning still takes dedication over a long period of time something that is easy to do is also easy not to do. I think you were aiming in this direction?

To some extent, I kind of think the ultimate question of (self-)learning lies in "practical difficulty". It is just there and will not be eliminated by lofty slogans or even certain down-to-earth measures. Difficulty type 1) linguistic differences. For example, almost all learners of Chinese and Chinese learners would fall into it. Despite linguistic realities, there is only one form of (standard) written Chinese, and while culturally linked to Japanese and Korean, we don't have significant advantages of Japanese/Koreans learning their counterpart language. So are the foreign learners who "have to" learn the only language without a true phonetic writing system. Difficulty type 2) less popular languages tend to be more difficult with less speakers, more confined to certain areas, less or very little media exposure/literature available, less useful stuff for learning, etc. And difficulty type 3) more remote ones are harder. Most European languages are "harder" for the Chinese, etc.

That said, it could be a very enriching/rewarding experience. Being determined, I've managed to improve my *English* through some of the most peculiar and yet rewarding ways, to an extent that I sometimes find it hard to put what I'm thinking about/write here, for example, back in the native. This may not be, back to the topic, what kids would normally do with their only, native lang(s).

I wouldn't mind if "teachings" or new ideas or "tips" weren't put in a language one might desire. The most important *idea* I really got is, simply, that English is so much better a reference language, and further practical steps every day *force* me to translate everything mentally from and into English. If I *had* the motivation to start a alllanguagexallthetime style blog, I'd definitely be writing more English than any others...may be a practical problem?
beneficii   Tue Jan 08, 2008 1:03 am GMT
Xie,

"That said, it could be a very enriching/rewarding experience. Being determined, I've managed to improve my *English* through some of the most peculiar and yet rewarding ways, to an extent that I sometimes find it hard to put what I'm thinking about/write here, for example, back in the native. This may not be, back to the topic, what kids would normally do with their only, native lang(s). "

Interesting, your way of writing is interesting; not incorrect, but seeming to be interesting in a way. I wouldn't say a different style, but there is something different about your way of writing. Perhaps you have Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism (I have Asperger's syndrome and I think some of writing seems strange because of it)?

Still, that lack of automatic ability to translate is something I seem to be developing in Japanese, which I think is more how a kid would do it and I think that's what you're saying in that last sentence. From what I understand, kids who learn multiple languages tend to keep them separate, almost like they're in stored in separately in the brain, making crossovers (like translations) between languages difficult.

"I wouldn't mind if "teachings" or new ideas or "tips" weren't put in a language one might desire. The most important *idea* I really got is, simply, that English is so much better a reference language, and further practical steps every day *force* me to translate everything mentally from and into English. If I *had* the motivation to start a alllanguagexallthetime style blog, I'd definitely be writing more English than any others...may be a practical problem?"

True, English is the interenational language. I do wonder about those most willing to bring up accusations of hypocrisy; it's like they're trying to deflect blame from something that they themselves need to fix. Just because the person telling you a message isn't following it faithfully, doesn't mean that you don't need to follow it yourself.
Xie   Tue Jan 08, 2008 4:07 am GMT
>>Interesting, your way of writing is interesting [...]

Does that refers to a heavy Chinese written dialect or heavy written Chinese-ness or something else?

Specifically, I must address that with a bit of explanation. Factually, I'm mentally healthy, in case you might be concerned about my health. :-) There might be something cultural going on. I know it. Occasionally, if you do find someone from the exact same place, knowing and learning the same languages as me, then that's probably me, in other usernames. Personally, I might have led a very different "web-life" from others. I do have my normal life, but what's more, I'm also into understanding what *foreigners* think. The basic assumption is: we are different, and with a bit Chinese-ness, I BET we are radically different, in every aspect - language, posting in forums, social behaviour and so on.

Here's my doctrine about the Chinese and Chinese: I, Xie, personally believe that every learner of this language is astonishingly brave, because I *say* you must be confronted with plenty of difficulties. That is not to discourage you, but, rather, I'm referring to the huge, insurmountable cultural differences. From this very background, I shall feel sorry that (that's my POV), if you are into *interesting cultural stuff* or food or anything else, it could be both very good and very disappointing of you to learn it. First of all, sweeping generalizations***, rather than exceptions, as I *claim*, *could* be actually sickeningly commonplace among *local* Chinese (i.e. not overseas, for I don't know about them). I admit that I'm a heavy addict of language forums, but foreign ones only, since I can see how you think from other perspectives. And from my perspective, I might be an "exceptionalist" among the Chinese who can read both Chinese and English well and bothers to try to know what foreigners think, instead of thinking that "yes, the ghosts do and think differently, period." Guess what, in some of the few (really few) forums in my language out there, people simply keep on saying "English is so difficult!" or "The R sounds are so daunting!" or "English tenses/German cases are so difficult!", or elsewhere they might just put on youtube links or interesting tabloid articles and laugh at *foreigners* who, while acting perfectly naturally to YOU, are said to be behaving stupidly. I don't have a PM here, but I were allowed to post examples (not about languages), I'd be glad to.

As a very homogeneous society, local Chinese could act ... to put it mildly, very differently from what you have perceived all your life before you arrive in the country or before learning the first cultural note about the people in any language course or whatnot. That is what, I believe, language learners have to spend the most time on, rather than so-called dauntingly difficult syntax or characters or anything else.

***This is what I've been taught very lately. That is to say, if you say "Shanghai women are very fashionable", while it sounds perfectly natural at least among the Shanghai women, as claimed by some native Mandarin speakers / Shanghai people, in the "western" sense, it would be a sweeping argument. That isn't what my education, no matter how *modern*, has offered. That's why I ALWAYS keep on refraining from being biased, using modal verbs as well as I can and even trying to encourage *others* not to be biased like preaching.

Sorry if, moderators, I sound completely off-topic here, but this is a very important cultural note I shall post as a reminder or something (with some bias, as usual). I guess my deep knowledge of languages have to be used this way - they are for writing and speaking to get understood, culturally.

==

>>which I think is more how a kid would do it and I think that's what you're saying in that last sentence.

Perhaps I, too, am doing similar things with English. In fact, recalling from my very faint memory, I actually learnt this "dialect" of English through reading, exactly, lang. forums. I've always used, what admins would suggest, a Cambridge electronic dict. as a desktop tool...and I write journals with 90%+ being English. I started with some decent basic knowledge, which enabled me to perform *fairly well* in the first high school exam - actually, shamefully bad, as a perfectionist, and then I started to know more about the internet world...

>>Just because the person telling you a message isn't following it faithfully, doesn't mean that you don't need to follow it yourself.

I'd just say putting things in English and posting a lot while seemingly contradicting one's own stance is, just, for, the sake of convenience.
Guest   Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:22 am GMT
adults watch too much porn.