Jump to content
Linguaholic

Why is it easier for some people to learn a foreign language?


Recommended Posts

When I started studying French at university, every single person in my class had NEVER learnt it. We were all starting from scratch. However, I remember this one girl who seemed to take to it like a duck to water. Before long, I'd say in a matter of a few months; this girl was speaking French very confidently and fluently while some of us were still grappling with verbs, nouns, conjugation etc I mean, she even had the accent nailed!

Does anyone know why it seems so much easier for some people to pick up languages than others?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

It made me wonder if she has any French language background like does she listen to French music, watch French movies or perhaps she just enjoys learning the language. I find it's easier to learn something you enjoy or something you're interested with.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a definite answer as to why some persons would learn a language quicker than others but I do think there are factors to consider. It could be that learning a language is like learning any other subject in which some students just do better better at one subject than the other. Also, normally whenever someone finds something interesting they open their minds more to it and so they are able to learn at a fast pace.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd attribute it to several factors, with innate interest and aptitude being the main reasons why they learn a specific language with breeze in comparison to other people. I always see interest and aptitude being the driving force, for everything else will follow; putting in the time and effort to learn the language, to spend more on studying than on any other activity among other things. It also helps that the aptitude is there. Interest might be present, but for some reason aptitude isn't - then it will still take longer time to learn. Much like Math, there are just people who easily gets it, even without having to devote more time to studying it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Obviously, it's a fact that some people have special talents. I have come across a similar case like yourself. When I went to college one of the girls in my French class spoke French like a native without coming from a French background or ever having been to a French speaking country. Even our French teacher marveled at this. But the strange thing was that she was struggling with English. Her pronunciation wasn't the best, and she made many mistakes.

So, I wonder if in a past life she had lived in a country where they spoke French. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is just the way people´s minds work.  I also think age has a lot to do with it.  I learned Korean in a year and without really being immersed in the culture.  Now I am 20 years older and have lived in central america for almost 3 years and my spanish is worse than my korean was back then.

It is funny, I live with a family that has a 3 year old son.  The mother is dutch, so speaks Dutch, German and English, the father is local and speaks spanish.  The kid can go back and forth in spanish and dutch with ease and even understands that they are completely different languages... and his english is almost as good as my spanish...  By the time he is 6, he will be fluent in 4 languages.  I am sooo jealous

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think people's minds are just sometimes wired that way and it makes them excel in certain things over others. To me, it's just like how some people are able to draw almost naturally even with only a little practice, and some people are able to draw very well only with a lot of practice, while some will most likely never be able to draw or paint in more traditional ways which would push them to form a style of their own instead.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think anyone over here really knows why some people are better at learning languages than other (not for sure), but we can all guess.  My guess is that is really depends on the language that the person is trying to learn, like for example m:  I had no issues learning english (I was younger tho), but I am currently having a lot issues learning dutch right now.

I think it depends a lot on the language you are trying to learn,  as well as your mother language. Plus the age also plays such an important role!  The younger you are when learning a language the better :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Obviously, it's a fact that some people have special talents. I have come across a similar case like yourself. When I went to college one of the girls in my French class spoke French like a native without coming from a French background or ever having been to a French speaking country. Even our French teacher marveled at this. But the strange thing was that she was struggling with English. Her pronunciation wasn't the best, and she made many mistakes.

So, I wonder if in a past life she had lived in a country where they spoke French.

That is very interesting!  What was her mother tongue? Was it German?  If so, then I must say it is really odd she had issues with english and not with french!  I had no issues with english, but I had issues with dutch and still do!  To the point I'm not very sure I'll ever be able to speak it :(

Link to post
Share on other sites

It made me wonder if she has any French language background like does she listen to French music, watch French movies or perhaps she just enjoys learning the language. I find it's easier to learn something you enjoy or something you're interested with.

She had zero knowledge of French and as I understood, we were all starting from scratch. But like you say, she must just have had a strong affinity to the language and took to it like a duck to water! It was amazing to watch. She wasn't ever shy about speaking it either, she just breezed through it!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have a definite answer as to why some persons would learn a language quicker than others but I do think there are factors to consider. It could be that learning a language is like learning any other subject in which some students just do better better at one subject than the other. Also, normally whenever someone finds something interesting they open their minds more to it and so they are able to learn at a fast pace.

I thought I was very interested in languages, but this girl clearly beat me hands down lol I think that may be where I hold myself back, although not by design; FEAR of failure. I need to embrace the expression practice makes perfect a bit more!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd attribute it to several factors, with innate interest and aptitude being the main reasons why they learn a specific language with breeze in comparison to other people. I always see interest and aptitude being the driving force, for everything else will follow; putting in the time and effort to learn the language, to spend more on studying than on any other activity among other things. It also helps that the aptitude is there. Interest might be present, but for some reason aptitude isn't - then it will still take longer time to learn. Much like Math, there are just people who easily gets it, even without having to devote more time to studying it.

I really like your answer, takibari! I think it explains why my classmate beat us all at French, by a clear mile. We obviously were all interested, but where she had one up on us was aptitude. I wish I had a very aptitude for languages **sigh**

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like your answer, takibari! I think it explains why my classmate beat us all at French, by a clear mile. We obviously were all interested, but where she had one up on us was aptitude. I wish I had a very aptitude for languages **sigh**

Thanks! Interest and aptitude might not be of the same level, but still each has its own merits. With your interest, I'm sure you're more than willing to do the work to learn any language you so desire. Once we have the interest, that can also be enough to oil the machine of learning. Just imagine if you're not interested in learning the language, and you're thrust to a language class because of requirement for something, drat - I could only imagine DISASTER as the sole outcome.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...
The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...