Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Overheard at Booth 3: Learning Languages

Heard this psychologist talking on NPR last night as I was going to pick up some Greek food for me and the missus, and he was talking about languages ...

apparently, mathematically, languages are supposed to be impossible to learn.  Never knew that before.

He was trying to do these studies about why little kids learn languages faster than their parents, even down to the total lack of an accent when they speak it.

But even though he was going through all this "we can't follow them for years" and "maybe it's because the kids have more desire to integrate than their parents do" and the one thing he never talked about was this:

the parents have to find a place to stay, afford a place to stay, find where to get groceries, how to get clothes for the kids, how to get food for the kids, how to get a phone, how to get a bank account, how to enroll the kids in school, how to get them TO school, and what does the kid need to do?

All the kid has to do is watch cartoons and play with the other kids outside and at school.

The reason why it's easier for kids to learn a language is because they are immersed in the wonder of a new place.  They have all the time for imagination, to feel this sense of amazement, because the parent is doing everything they can to make sure they get fed and clothed.

If I went to a foreign country and the ONLY thing I had to do was sit around all day and talk to people in a coffee shop, because someone else was buying my clothes, feeding me, paying the bills, then I am pretty sure I'd pick up on the language too.

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