Is there a turning-point age to learn a language?

Franco   Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:53 am GMT
Also, adults are more occupied with things, as family, work , finance, studies. No time for language learning. With so much to do they will use the language that's easiest to get things done fastest.
K. T.   Tue Jul 31, 2007 12:59 am GMT
Of course, this is also generally true, but most people in the US make time to watch TV. There is time to learn languages too.
furrykef   Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:22 am GMT
<< Adults can never be like native speakers!!
It's really hard to change your accent once you become an adult. >>

Antimoon considers this to be a myth:
Humble   Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:45 am GMT
Hello K.T.,
Could you please tell exactly the name of the thing you bought to compare the pronunciation? I'm intrigued.
Franco   Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:56 am GMT
<<but most people in the US make time to watch TV. There is time to learn languages too.>>

No. It's not true. Humans, are lazy by default. Tv is a lazy action, and language learning is not.
K. T.   Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:46 am GMT
Hello Humble,
I bought 31 Languages of the World at a discount bookstore (new), for about 3 dollars at the end of last year, I believe. It's available on the internet for a bit more. Transparent is the name of the company. I understand that the creators of Antimoon also have something for English.

You can test your pronunciation (fricatives, wave form, vowels and pitch) for the following languages. You can test set words and phrases.

Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Bengali (English for Spanish speakers)
Canadian French, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek,
Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Irish Japanese, Korean, Latin,
Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai, Ukrainian,
Vietnamese, Yiddish, Zulu
K. T.   Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:50 am GMT
Hee, Hee...I left out a comma between Irish and Japanese. Mr. O'hara meet Mr. Ohara.


Franco, I meant that one can learn a language (even if one has a family) if one gives up an hour of TV every night.
Native Korean   Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:18 pm GMT
Think about a Family immigration to the US.
Children usually learn English faster and their accent become almost perfect.
However, parents stick to their first language and their English has heavy accent in most cases.

Of course, there might be some exceptions but I do believe there is a turning point age to learn a new language.
Earle   Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:52 pm GMT
I was over thirty when I began learning German and my accent is not picked up in German-speaking areas and I'm able to modify my pronunciation to match the local accent I'm hearing around me. The most I'll get in the way of a comment is, sometimes, "you're not from around here, are you?" I began studying German by buying German folk song records, and singing along, since I'm musical. My wife commented once that, when speaking German, my posture and gestures also became German. A recent, interesting discovery is that we have "mirror neurons," whose job it is to read and mimic the facial expressions of other people for the purpose of inducing a feeling of harmony, etc., in our conversational companion. When I heard that, I remembered my (ex) wife's comment and realized that I may be oversupplied with those "mirror" neurons. I know that I can move about the US and change my accent to fit the local sound. I'm well into learning Norwegian now, for an upcoming trip, and I won't have all the declensions and conjugations down, but I'll guarantee that I'll get compliments on pronunciation. BTW, I'm 68 years old...
Paul N.   Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:58 pm GMT
Can you give more ideas about how this modelling work should go? Do you have your own experiences with it? I've never heard about this modelling approach. As for me I'm pretty well with singular sounds [words] of English. It is not that well when it comes to word-linking or producing whole sentences. Surprisingly, my pronuncation is near-native when producing words singularly. Hovever, if they happen to be the part of a sentence my tounge finds it hard to speak in a pleasant way.

Paul N.
Jasper   Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:03 am GMT
Paul: Sure!

Get a tape of the model speaker--about 30 minutes worth of speech.

Say each sentence--along WITH the speaker--as many times as you wish, until you reach an exact match. 10 or 15 times per sentence is not too many.

Your unconscious mind will do most of the work for you. I modelled Peter Graves voice for a time. The differences in dialect became embarrassingly obvious to me. Heck, I didn't even consciously know that my "l"s and my "r"s were pronounced wrong! But modelling made this discrepancy obvious.

Modelling will make incorrect intonation, wave length, breathing, etc, obvious, too. I don't think a person can learn this in a class.
Jasper   Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:06 am GMT
Paul, by the way, this method is very cheap. :-)

Audiobooks are readily available at the public library for free. Find a speaker you like, and model away!
Paul N.   Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:13 am GMT

Thank you for your advice. Are you a native speaker of English? Your writing sounds so natural. I mean it is a way easier for a native to do perfect modelling than for any other non-native speaker.

Paul N.
Jasper   Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:10 pm GMT

Thank you for your kind words concerning my writing. :-) I'm a native speaker of English.

Modelling is probably easier for a native because we know how to produce the sounds; put another way, we know what to do with our tongues to get that perfect "r", etc. Even so, modelling for the purpose of accent reduction is hard work; I found that my jaw ached very badly.

I wish you good luck in your endeavors. If you have any questions, please ask--we'll be happy to help.
K. T.   Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:56 pm GMT
I've only used it in relation to foreign languages, so, I imagine that it would work for speakers of English as a foreign language as well.

I listen ONCE without speaking, but move my mouth as if speaking. I don't know why, but this seems to make a groove in my memory. Then I speak along with the native twice. If necessary, you can listen and repeat a time or two, but usually I get any difficult spots smoothed out on the third or fourth try.

My method:
Listen once without speaking, reading along silently.
Speak with the native twice.
If necessary, listen and repeat a couple of times.

You could also make notes by indicating where the pitch goes up, if necessary.