"Five myths on languages and how to learn them" now available in Spanish (Cinco topicazos acerca de las lenguas y su aprendizaje)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Aquí tenemos a un hombrecito que tarda alrededor de un año para aprender noruego. No pensó que sería un camino tan largo, y pasa mucho tiempo aprendiendo vocabulario y tratando de practicar todos los días. Sin embargo, todo este nuevo vocabulario y práctica encaja perfectamente con la gramática inglesa que ya existe en su cabeza y nunca se enfadó con el libro y se preguntó si alguna vez descubriría cómo funciona el idioma...

A few days ago I finished writing a post called "five myths on languages and how to learn them" (the languages, not the myths) that received quite a bit of traffic. There were quite a few comments, one of which I should probably respond to here:
So, I read this article and I have to say, your myth #5 is totally incorrect. As a neuroscientist, I can say that children are extremely well equipped to learn languages, especially given the fact that they learn them passively. Also, your point about children taking a long time to write.... confounded. Find an adult who doesnt know how to write but speaks one language, then teach him to write and speak another and see how long it takes him/her.
Sure, if we're looking at adults who have never learned to write, but we're not talking about an adult who doesn't know how to write at all, we're talking about your regular able-to-read-and-write-in-a-single-language (English) adult. It's true that children are very impressive in being able to learn languages while starting from a clean slate, but the point is that adults don't have to start from a clean slate, and the knowledge they already have makes them faster at learning languages than children as long as they are sufficiently motivated and have enough time. That's why an adult is able to learn to read and write new alphabets in a very short time while children take a few years to get past the awkward stage where d and b and q and g all get mixed up and staying on the line is almost impossible. They're not morons, they're just embarking on a completely new skill and that's why it takes them so long. Once again, almost no adult with the same amount of immersion in a language as a child (24 hours a day, absolutely no using one's L1 at all, for a number of years) would take as long to become fluent in a language, especially with reading and writing. The issue is which is faster in total time to get from nothing to fluency, not cerebral structure.

Back to the subject: one of the people that read the post writes a blog called Babel 2.0, quite similar to this one in that it has a lot about technology and languages ("Un blog sobre lenguas y nuevas (o no tan nuevas) tecnologías"), though less geopolitics, and the author has translated the entire post into Spanish, along with a short introduction above, and even includes the stickmen I drew for the post. This blog is highly recommended for anyone interested in languages, fluent in or interested in / studying Spanish.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP