Have you ever wondered how children and youngsters speak more than one language with ease? You simply have to meet young kids from one of the non-English speaking countries and you will realize how many of them are able to converse in two or three languages besides their mother tongue.
There is nothing strange about it though. This is easily observed in children in bi-lingual homes. Such children pick-up both languages reflexively and even at kindergarten age are normally at ease with the languages of both the parents. In some non-English speaking countries, children are exposed to their native language as well as English because it is all over the place: in media, video games, toys, Internet and on signboards on roads.
It is a proven fact that assimilative capacity of the human mind is the greatest when we are young. Language skills of children depend upon their exposure to various languages. In some countries children are exposed to multiple languages automatically. In countries like India there is a national language, a regional language (mostly mother tongue) and English as medium of instruction in schools. The early exposure to multiple languages enables them to learn multiple languages with ease.
A two year old child is capable of gathering words at a very rapid speed. This period continues for another one year. If you let your child play with toys like flashcards that use a foreign language the child will quickly assimilate foreign words in his memory. Initially the child may not know the distinction but if he keeps on using them he commits them to memory and can recall it when he starts studying the language formally.
Adults learn a new language differently. We all know that it takes some time to learn new things. The older we grow the more difficult it becomes to learn a new language. It also takes a lot of commitment to learn and apply it to normal daily activities.
For adults there are different methods for teaching foreign languages. Some languages are easy to learn while some can be quite intricate. It also depends upon your mother tongue. For example, if your native language is English you will find it easier to learn a Germanic language such as Dutch. Learning Chinese, on the other hand, will definitely be a different ball game altogether and comparatively much more difficult.
Acquiring skills or knowledge depends largely on your ability to memorize. It is an established fact that the human mind tends to store events or images that have an impact on our senses. Silly or outrageous events/images are easily committed to memory than run-of-the-mill events. This is one way that is often recommended while learning foreign languages. It is easier to remember words when they are associated with something absurd or ridiculous.
The other technique is practice. The more you practice the easier it is to learn. Practice, however, should be distinguished from rote. Rote is memorizing by repetition and often with understanding. Learning by understanding meanings and practicing it in daily routines is one of the better ways of learning a foreign language.
If you can plan ahead and want your children to learn a foreign language it is better to catch them young. Send them to a specific kindergarten that focuses on a foreign language. It will stand them in good stead when they are ready for formal learning. Make sure that the teacher/s is well versed in the language to avoid your child picking up grammatical mistakes, awry pronunciations and chaotic accents.
On the other hand, if you as an adult want to learn a foreign language from scratch, make sure that you choose the right method. There are many ways for learning a foreign language. You have a wide range of options to choose from. You may join a foreign language school, get yourself a foreign language course comprising of books and audio and visual tapes or computer software. You can also join virtual classes on the World Wide Web. These are almost similar to joining a foreign language school from the comfort of your home.
Once you look deeper you may find that language learning is not only about learning a new foreign language. You may also want to hone up your skills in languages you already know. For example, you may know English but you may not be at ease with its grammar. There is also a case for wanting to enhance communications skills even in your mother tongue.
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