[FoRK] No More Cursive?

Dave Long dave.long at bluewin.ch
Thu Aug 25 03:32:03 PDT 2011


> I don't understand why you would distinquish (first, second,  
> third)?? It seems to me if there is a critical period for learning  
> language it would hardly discriminate? It is during that observed  
> critical period that it's easiest to learn language; your first and  
> second and third, etc.

First, a general observation: as a child, one abstractly learns to  
listen, and speak, and read, and write, concretely using the mother  
tongue.  With the second and successive languages, there may be many  
concrete differences to assimilate, but the language skills are  
there, ready to be applied.  (musicians don't have to relearn "music"  
when they pick up new instruments)

Second, an anecdote: in theory, if the "critical period" were really  
that critical, my german (classroom study as a child) would be better  
than my french (learned late-30's); in practice, it's the opposite.   
(learning languages is a little like learning hockey: formal  
instruction is useful to improve one's game, but it can't replace ice  
time)

-Dave

>>> Adults, on the other hand, need a lot of motivation and hard work  
>>> to learn one.

Many skills need a lot of motivation and hard work to learn, even if  
they don't require nesting items in implicitly branching structure,  
or don't require real-time "tip of the tongue" response; language  
needs both.  While it may be discouraging to hear kids effortlessly  
rattling away in their mother tongue, adults who either (a) simply  
compare performance to their past selves, or (b) make an apples-to- 
apples comparison: against those small children with the equivalent  
limited number of hours of language exposure, should be pleasantly  
surprised at how much progress a little hard work provides.



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