s_allard wrote:This does answer my question. A child watches "4-5 hours of cartoons/movies a day, often rewatching them several times" Then English classes starting at age 11. These seemed to have been very easy but they still were classes. All this qualifies as "learning well without trying"? Gimme a break. It sounds like a lot of trying to me. Just like in the OP's story of someone learning Norwegian without trying, we see that in reality a lot of effort and trying went into learning the language.
What people are mixing up is not trying with not studying the language in a systematic and formal way. I am open to the idea of non-formal ways of study, including some form of natural method but this still involves a lot of trying,
Let's for a moment think of an adult learner using the method that this poster here used. I watch 4-5 hours of Spanish movies a day, rewatching many of them several times. After six months I take Spanish classes for a year and breeze through them. The results are spectacular. Should I conclude that I learned Spanish without trying?
As someone has pointed out, one attempt of learning without trying was this idea of watching an hour of video in Mandarin Chinese a day with no formal study. I gather this person gave up after a couple of months.
Instead of all these apocryphal stories of learning a language effortlessly as a child, let's hear from adult learners here who have learned a language to a B2 level without making any effort.
First of all, you totally misconstrued my post and then at the end you even dared call my "story" apocryphal.
Secondly, stop with your straw man arguments. Nobody said that this was an efficient method. Heck, nobody even said it was a method.
Let me make this easier for you to understand:
I SPENT EXACTLY 0 HOURS TRYING TO LEARN ENGLISH.
I was already able to speak/interpret/think in English before my classes started.
I didn't watch cartoons/movies because I wanted to learn English.
I didn't do anything in my English classes. I didn't learn anything new. Calling them easy would be an overstatement.
The original question was "Has anyone learnt a language well without trying to learn it?"
The person learning Mandarin that you mentioned does not qualify here because he is trying to learn a language by watching TV, and therefore the learning process is no longer unconscious.
edit: Fixed some spelling errors. I'm sure there's more.