The older you get the harder it gets.

General discussion about learning languages
Speakeasy
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby Speakeasy » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:23 am

mentecuerpo wrote: ... I had to read your post multiple times before I got the meaning of it. I had to use Google Translate from English to Spanish ... After I read it in Spanish, I understood your sense of humor. :lol:
I am very surprised that Google came close to representing what I attempted to imply. My wife frequently chides me for my attempts at andhumour, often reminding me that, of the very few people who might understand it, even fewer are likely to appreciate it. Thank you for making the additional effort!

EDITED:
Typo.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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mentecuerpo
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby mentecuerpo » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:18 am

Lisa wrote:I tried to learn Vietnamese when I was in my late teens. I simply could not near the differences in the vowels; English is kind of flexible on how long and round the vowels are, and those Vietnamese o and u variants just always sounded the same to me. The tones weren't easy, but I could hear and produce them with effort, but the vowels were too much. Chinese was easier. Perhaps this is an inherent weakness, I'm not very musical.

A person's ability to physically hear some sound differences changes after babyhood, I don't remember, perhaps 2 years old... but I did read somewhere that the ear can be retrained even when older, it just takes some specific drills. And then, it is documented that the ability to hear certain frequencies declines with age. They say that only teenagers can hear high pitched sounds, so they can set up machines that generate those sounds and keep teenagers from hanging around certain places.

My learning of Spanish is not really comparable since I did learn it pretty well a long time ago. Given Anki and online grammar drills, and the determination and focus I have now; I'm finding it much easier and faster to learn much more vocabulary and grammar than I ever knew; it's much easier now than it was then. I have a good memory in general, and lately I have noticed a decline in my ability to remember things like the names of restaurants that I don't go to very often or 70s rock bands... I kind of think I'm pushing in so much new stuff into my head so fast, that it's pushing other things out.


First, welcome to the forum, and thank you for your contribution to this post.

I would imagine that Vietnamese must be a difficult language to learn for us who speak a Native European language. From what I have read on this forum, many oriental languages are tonal, which is a challenge for most of us to identify, and not to mention, to mimic correctly — the Chinese sounds are hard, it must be a difficult language to learn for me too.

I think having a musical ear may help, but most of us do not have this ability, and we learn languages just fine.

It appears that babies begin to acquire the intonation, stress, rhythm of the native language very early in the first year of life. I agree that adults can learn the prosody and pronunciation of a new language, and it takes listening to the language and get familiar with it.

On this topic, I remember reading on the internet about a linguist from New Zealand who believes that listening to the language patterns early on is essential to acquire a sense of the language and a proper pronunciation. I think that this professor has a language training website for Chinese students interested in learning English and applies his technique to help the students.
You can read more on this link
https://phys.org/news/2009-01-revolutio ... guage.html

In this forum, you will find many other language learners that share their language learning tips and help each other. I particularly enjoy reading daily posts from fellow members, but I also like to dig into past posts, sometimes ten years back. It is a gold mine worth of tips to learn a language. For example, there is a popular method call shadowing to help with listening and pronunciation skills. You can find more information about the topic searching the forum.

Learning Spanish is a good language to learn for several reasons. In my opinion, it is a fantastic language; it is such an important language that I decided to learn it the day I was born. In other words, If Spanish were not my native language, I would probably try to learn it.

There is no doubt to me that your experience learning Vietnamese as a teenager and some German and Italian here and there, will facilitate learning a new language. You are also familiar with Anki and online grammar sites, which means that you probably have the tools and confidence to learn languages.

I am in my early fifties, and I am a very forgetful person. I think I can remember that I was a forgetful person in my 20’s, but maybe I don’t remember too well, it seems a long time.

I love the 80’s English music, but I can’t remember the lyrics or the names of the songs, and paradoxically my 14yo son is into the 80’s, and he sings the songs by heart. I am glad it is not hip hop that he likes. My wife sings the songs along so, another proof of my bad memory.

Once again, welcome to the forum. Enjoy learning about learning languages.
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mentecuerpo
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby mentecuerpo » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:43 am

Kraut wrote:El aprendizaje de idiomas en adultos, un reto posible

I found this in the UNED mediateca

https://canal.uned.es/video/5a6f15e1b1111fe0688b456a


Lingüística Pedagogía
01/05/2017

Hasta la década de 1990, en general se decía que solo los niños podían aprender un segundo idioma al nivel de un hablante nativo. La teoría argumentaba que los niños son más receptivos a nuevos aprendizajes y en especial al aprendizaje de idiomas. Lo cual tenía mucho sentido: los niños necesitan aprender el idioma para integrarse en la sociedad y, por lo tanto, también resulta más fácil para ellos aprender un segundo idioma. Pero cuando los lingüistas empezaron a analizar los datos, encontraron que la situación no era tan clara como se creía. Hoy en día, las investigaciones sugieren que si bien los estudiantes más jóvenes tienen ciertas ventajas cuando aprenden un idioma, la experiencia de vida o madurez de los adultos les da algunas herramientas y técnicas que los niños no tienen como descubriremos en este el programa.

Until the 1990s, it was generally said that only children could learn a second language at the level of a native speaker. The theory argued that children are more receptive to new learning and especially to language learning. This made a lot of sense: children need to learn the language in order to integrate into society and therefore it is also easier for them to learn a second language. But when linguists started to analyse the data, they found that the situation was not as clear-cut as believed. Today, research suggests that while younger students have certain advantages when learning a language, the life experience or maturity of adults gives them some tools and techniques that children do not have as we will discover in this program.

Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)




Muy interesante señor Kraut. Gracias.

I like the podcast. The content is interesting, and it is ideal for practicing listening skills. I like the fact that it is its also conversational style. It is a clear speech Spanish from Spain.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby Cainntear » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:46 pm

mentecuerpo wrote:There is a linear relationship between age and language learning.

Absolutely untrue. The relationship between age and language ability is a very complex thing, and certainly not "linear".

Every attempt to chart the learning potential through childhood comes out with a curve, and differences in potential throughout life seem to be linked to stages.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby mentecuerpo » Sun Jan 12, 2020 11:52 pm

Cainntear wrote:
mentecuerpo wrote:There is a linear relationship between age and language learning.

Absolutely untrue. The relationship between age and language ability is a very complex thing, and certainly not "linear".

Every attempt to chart the learning potential through childhood comes out with a curve, and differences in potential throughout life seem to be linked to stages.


It is a controversial topic; I can see that.

I am not a linguist or expert on the field. I am not a second language teacher either. I am based on what I haver read, an my own empirical observations.

I agree about the differences in potential throughout life seem to be linked to stages.

In terms of pronunciation, what I have read, indicates that it is linear till 15-17; after that, all adults seem to be on the same boat with a foreign accent. I posted a study on this blog about the Italian immigrants to Cannada. The Italian immigrants who spoke English like natives, were the very young ones. The older Italian immigrants had a detectable foreign accent, which became more prominent depending with teh age of arrival in Canada in a linear fashion.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby Cainntear » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:47 am

mentecuerpo wrote:I am not a linguist or expert on the field. I am not a second language teacher either. I am based on what I haver read, an my own empirical observations.
...
The older Italian immigrants had a detectable foreign accent, which became more prominent depending with teh age of arrival in Canada in a linear fashion.

Your observations are not empirical. You have no established measures, no numerical data. You make a superficial judgement.

Repeatedly using terms like "empirical" and "linear" is a form of dishonesty, presenting your personal opinion as though it has some kind of authoritative value.

You believe that and you observe as much, but without any formal measures, it could well just be confirmation bias.

Besides, "linear" is patent nonsense. If you start at age 1, you can learn perfectly. If you start at age 20, you learn flawed. If it was linear, somewhere in the 30-60 range, the line would hit zero and you would be incapable of learning even a new word. Any realistically conceivable graph of language learning ability would be non-linear.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby Kraut » Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:11 pm

https://abrilfm.com/podcast/165-drei-sp ... nen-65-rat

This is a young Spanish girl that attends a German Gymnasium and runs a podcast with the ambition of taking all her classmates to an "EINS" in Spanish.
She switches languages after each sentence, and sometimes doesn't get complete control over her respective accents. I also think that at moments I hear some interference of the local Swabian dialect.
But all of this is only for a short moment. A few sentences later she will be comfortably back in one system.

Here is an article on the benefits of struggling in two language systems:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4191972/

The parallel activity of the bilingual’s two languages can be observed in reading, listening to speech, and in preparing to speak one language alone (e.g., Dijkstra, 2005; Marian & Spivey, 2003; Kroll, Bobb, & Wodniecka, 2006). Cross-language activation means that bilinguals are constantly juggling the competition that results when one of the two languages must be selected. The second discovery is that the language system is highly adaptive. Being bilingual is not only about acquiring and using a second language (L2) but also about the ways that the native or dominant first language (L1) changes in response to the L2. These changes have been observed at every level of language use, from the lexicon to the grammar and phonology. Moreover, they do not depend on acquiring both languages from early childhood; we see adaptation on the part of adult L2 learners that shows that cross-language interactions may depend as much or more on proficiency in the L2 than on the age of acquisition. The third discovery is that bilingualism shapes the structure and function of the brain across the lifespan. Learning to negotiate cross-language competition and to use the two languages in a variety of contexts may enable bilinguals to develop special expertise that extends beyond language into cognition, shapes the brain networks that support cognitive control, and provides cognitive resources that are protective when individuals are old or cognitively impaired.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby mentecuerpo » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:00 pm

Cainntear wrote:
mentecuerpo wrote:I am not a linguist or expert on the field. I am not a second language teacher either. I am based on what I haver read, an my own empirical observations.
...
The older Italian immigrants had a detectable foreign accent, which became more prominent depending with teh age of arrival in Canada in a linear fashion.

Your observations are not empirical. You have no established measures, no numerical data. You make a superficial judgement.

Repeatedly using terms like "empirical" and "linear" is a form of dishonesty, presenting your personal opinion as though it has some kind of authoritative value.

You believe that and you observe as much, but without any formal measures, it could well just be confirmation bias.

Besides, "linear" is patent nonsense. If you start at age 1, you can learn perfectly. If you start at age 20, you learn flawed. If it was linear, somewhere in the 30-60 range, the line would hit zero and you would be incapable of learning even a new word. Any realistically conceivable graph of language learning ability would be non-linear.


Cainnter, thank you for your contribution to this post.

The papers I presented here are research-based.
What do you think about the Canadian immigrant paper?
Did you read it?

I can say then that linear stops at age 17 or maybe younger.
From age 20 plus, I believe that learning a language sooner in life, especially if the L2 is distant from L1, younger helps. It is my opinion.

FiCTITIOUS EXAMPLE
I am referring to my common sense of anticipation results, not back up by science; it is my opinion. It is fictional and imaginary sample crated by me.

Imagine a nuclear family consisting of four monolingual members with no prior knowledge of the English language who immigrated from Vietnam to Canada. On the date of arrival to the new home country, the father is 55-yo, the mother is 48-yo, the older child is 15-yo, and the youngest is 8-yo. They all immigrate together. After five years of living in Canada, we meet the family and assess their language proficiency 0 to 10, ten in better.

Results are as follows:
After five years of living in Canada, native speakers rate the family member's English language proficiency with a simple 0 to 10 scale, ten is native-like pronunciation and prosody.
Dad=3
Mother=4
Older child=6
Younger child=8
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mentecuerpo
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby mentecuerpo » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:07 pm

Kraut wrote:https://abrilfm.com/podcast/165-drei-spanische-serien-um-spanisch-zu-lernen-65-rat#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=165-drei-spanische-serien-um-spanisch-zu-lernen-65-rat

This is a young Spanish girl that attends a German Gymnasium and runs a podcast with the ambition of taking all her classmates to an "EINS" in Spanish.
She switches languages after each sentence, and sometimes doesn't get complete control over her respective accents. I also think that at moments I hear some interference of the local Swabian dialect.
But all of this is only for a short moment. A few sentences later she will be comfortably back in one system.

Here is an article on the benefits of struggling in two language systems:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4191972/

The parallel activity of the bilingual’s two languages can be observed in reading, listening to speech, and in preparing to speak one language alone (e.g., Dijkstra, 2005; Marian & Spivey, 2003; Kroll, Bobb, & Wodniecka, 2006). Cross-language activation means that bilinguals are constantly juggling the competition that results when one of the two languages must be selected. The second discovery is that the language system is highly adaptive. Being bilingual is not only about acquiring and using a second language (L2) but also about the ways that the native or dominant first language (L1) changes in response to the L2. These changes have been observed at every level of language use, from the lexicon to the grammar and phonology. Moreover, they do not depend on acquiring both languages from early childhood; we see adaptation on the part of adult L2 learners that shows that cross-language interactions may depend as much or more on proficiency in the L2 than on the age of acquisition. The third discovery is that bilingualism shapes the structure and function of the brain across the lifespan. Learning to negotiate cross-language competition and to use the two languages in a variety of contexts may enable bilinguals to develop special expertise that extends beyond language into cognition, shapes the brain networks that support cognitive control, and provides cognitive resources that are protective when individuals are old or cognitively impaired.


Her Spanish is excellent, I would say native-like, but she speaks Spanish slowly, probably to increase clarity. I liked the Flamenco music on the podcast. Does she say the same thing in Spanish and German?

About the bilingual paper, I see that the National Institute of Health partly supported it, the NIH, and the article came from the National Medical Library. That shows that biligualism studies are gaining track in the USA.

It is interesting to see that in the bilingual brain, the two languages are always active. I can see it on myself; I speak English at work and Spanish at home, mostly. The two languages are always coming out, and I need to be selective, depending on who I am speaking too. The same when I speak Italian, the Spanish is always coming out.
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Re: The older you get the harder it gets.

Postby Cainntear » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:48 pm

mentecuerpo wrote:The papers I presented here are research-based.

But none of them describe linear relationships.
What do you think about the Canadian immigrant paper?
Did you read it?

Yes. It doesn't describe a linear relationship.

I can say then that linear stops at age 17 or maybe younger.

You can say it, but the Canadian paper contradicts your hypothesis. It shows a pattern that is repeated across all research in this area:
There is a slow decline in ability to pick up a natural accent in pre-school years, and the decline accelerates during early school years, reaching its fastest around the onset of puberty, then slows again in the early 20s.

i.e. not linear.

FiCTITIOUS EXAMPLE
I am referring to my common sense of anticipation results, not back up by science; it is my opinion. It is fictional and imaginary sample crated by me.

Why? Why invent a fake example? I know what you're claiming, so the made-up example doesn't clarify, and because it's made up, it doesn't support your argument anyway.

Imagine a nuclear family consisting of four monolingual members with no prior knowledge of the English language who immigrated from Vietnam to Canada. On the date of arrival to the new home country, the father is 55-yo, the mother is 48-yo, the older child is 15-yo, and the youngest is 8-yo. They all immigrate together. After five years of living in Canada, we meet the family and assess their language proficiency 0 to 10, ten in better.

Results are as follows:
After five years of living in Canada, native speakers rate the family member's English language proficiency with a simple 0 to 10 scale, ten is native-like pronunciation and prosody.
Dad=3
Mother=4
Older child=6
Younger child=8

...and it's flawed anyway. One thing noted in a lot of Asian immigration is that women often end up spending less time with native speakers and more time with fellow immigrants, so tend to achieve a lower level than men, who typically end up working alongside native speakers and socialising with their workmates. The 7 year difference between husband and wife is likely going to have negligible effects, completely masked by their different social situations.
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