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Many people often wonder why kids learn languages fast? The answer is simple. Children practice what they learn a lot. I was listening to a child who is learning to talk and she'd repeat the same words over and over until she got the pronunciation right. And when kids see something they don't know, they'll ask their parent, sibling or someone to trust to tell them what it is. And when they've heard the word they'll repeat it until the parent, says "yeah, you've got it right."

To learn a languge well and fast be proactive about learning. Ask questions and practice speaking the words you learn until you get them right. That's how kids do it and you have to admit they certainly do learn new languages really fast.

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I agree with you 100% here. Children also have the ability to stay positive and not get upset if they make a mistake. The more mistakes you make in the early days of learning the better. Being prepared to constantly repeat the same things is a mental block many adults stumble over.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Yes! I absolutely agree with that!

And that's why a children's approach to learning a language is one of the best! I am told that one way to learn a new language thoroughly is to learn the language like a child... Cheers!

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I also agree with everyone here. The thing with children that I envy is their being so fearless, too. Before a certain age, they are not easily embarrassed because they are not yet conscious of themselves. They just go in guns blazing, and will even sometimes laugh at themselves when they make mistakes. I think maybe we should take a leaf out of their book LOL They also like to repeat things over and over, and will question a lot of things they don't understand. The other thing is that at a younger age, the brain capacity and constitution is such that it allows for better absorption of knowledge. That's why children are much more adept at learning more than one language simultaneously than adults.

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Apart from what you have said, I also think that children really absorb information much faster than adults, that's why children are the easiest learners of a new language. If you analyze it, how come we were able to learn our native language with such ease and with no one even teaching us how to speak it? We just learned them all by ourselves, right? So I guess that's the advantage of being a kid. Immersion works for them with no teaching necessary.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 6/24/2016 at 8:45 AM, Lingua Franca said:

I would still add to this that kids brains are in a phase of development and are like sponges. They don't have that much clutter to go through before being able to remember something. The advantage you have as being a grown up is experience so it can be easy to associate a word to something if you know a similar word.

Pretty much stole the words from my mouth. Kids are also better able to differentiate between sounds, while adults might struggle with certain words of a foreign language because their brains tune out sounds that don't fit with their dominant language.

Not to say you are wrong, though. Being proactive definitely helps in mastering any language. I know because when my mother first immigrated to America, she had to learn Cantonese fast to communicate with her coworkers. She would tell me that she didn't care if she mispronounced a word; she would just speak and get her point across until someone corrected her. I would say that she is pretty fluent now as a result.

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This subject is a little more complex than that. Even though anybody will eventually speak a language if they experience the so called "total immersion" for a while (believe me, you will speak any language in the world once you are in a foreign country, starving and having to order some food) there are several theories that try to explain language learning in children, one is the Chomsky's LAD or Language Acquisition Device as a theoretical part of the mind that allows kids to quickly learn a language since the grammar rules are, hypothetically, innate. 

I saw (online) a lecturer from Stanford U actually explaining that the part of the brain involved in learning your first language or mother tongue is actually different that the parts engaged  when you go ahead and actually learn a second language. There appears to be something fundamentally different between learning a language as a child and learning it as an adult that goes beyond the plasticity of kids minds and their exposition to the language and actually involves different parts of the brain. 

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Also,  kids don't get scolded for not speaking at least with a 90% accuracy. The little toddlers talk a lot and commit a great deal of mistakes. They don't feel the pressure of "business" level fluency that an adult should achieve by investing a hefty sum of money on Professional teachers.

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It's really best and easiest to teach them while they are young. I know I learned most of my language in school but since it wasn't spoken around the house I had a much harder time and I also did not retain much of what I learned due to lack of practice. Meanwhile my other classmates came into school already having ample experience because they already use it to speak primarily at home. 

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I totally agree that to learn a new language fast and well, we do need to be proactive. I use some small cards on which I write some of the more difficult words that I learnt the previous week. This helps me when I have time to spare or Im standing in line somewhere, I'll take them out and practice those words. It's a really simple and effective way to retain more of what you learn. 

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