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Re: THEORY: Bilinguals Find It Easier to Learn a Third Language

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  • Carsten Becker
    ... Just an anecdote to share apropos of this – the state of Baden-Württemberg even made an advertisement slogan from that insight: Wir können alles,
    Message 1 of 21 , Mar 3, 2013
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      On Sun, 3 Mar 2013 14:59:29 -0300, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...> wrote:

      >BTW, in regard to the claim that "adults will never speak a second
      >language as a native", it's interesting to consider that many natives
      >will never speak "as natives" either. I mean, some people from a
      >language dialectal zone just _can't_ speak like the natives of other
      >places.

      Just an anecdote to share apropos of this – the state of Baden-Württemberg even made an advertisement slogan from that insight: "Wir können alles, außer Hochdeutsch" – "We can do anything, except speak Standard German" :)

      Apart from that, without reading the article in the OP but only the replies in this thread, I grew up in a monolingual German-speaking family and only got to learn English from grade 5 on and French from grade 7 on, and took both up to graduation in 13th grade. Both languages at first didn't come easily to me, and my learning French didn't profit that much from learning English at the same time but with a two-year's margin. At least I didn't mix up the two, as I heard before is a problem for some people when trying to learn two languages at the same time. And while I have gradually become rather proficient in English mostly thanks to using it on the internet almost every day, my French sadly lags behind quite a bit, mostly due to lack of exposure. However, I have never seriously tried learning another language from scratch since graduating from school in 2006, so I don't know if it would be that much easier even now that I've attained fluency in English.

      Carsten
    • J. 'Mach' Wust
      ... In the PISA tests (the OECD s Programme for International Student Assessment), German-speaking Swiss children had higher scores in language skills than
      Message 2 of 21 , Mar 3, 2013
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        On Sun, 3 Mar 2013 17:11:03 -0500, Carsten Becker wrote:

        > On Sun, 3 Mar 2013 14:59:29 -0300, Leonardo Castro wrote:
        >
        >> BTW, in regard to the claim that "adults will never speak a
        >>second language as a native", it's interesting to consider that
        >>many natives will never speak "as natives" either. I mean, some
        >>people from a language dialectal zone just _can't_ speak like the
        >>natives of other places.
        >>>
        > Just an anecdote to share apropos of this – the state of
        >Baden-Württemberg even made an advertisement slogan from that
        >insight: "Wir können alles, außer Hochdeutsch" – "We can do
        >anything, except speak Standard German" :)

        In the PISA tests (the OECD's Programme for International
        Student Assessment), German-speaking Swiss children had higher
        scores in language skills than children from Germany. Of course,
        there can be lots of reasons for that, but one reason might be the
        sort of bilingualism that comes from German-speaking Swiss being
        able to consciously switch between the dialect and the standard
        language. Sadly, politics drew opposite consequences from the
        results: In order to improve children's language skills, dialect
        should be avoided in schools. Teachers should use the standard
        language exclusively, during brakes, when teaching "soft" subjects
        such as sports or music, or even in kindergarten. However, this
        increased use of the standard language has led to popular
        resistance, so there won't be much change after all, and the
        dialect will continue to be used naturally in schools.

        --
        grüess
        mach
      • G. van der Vegt
        ... Interestingly, whenever Netherlanders and Flemish Belgians are pitted against eachother in contests based on command of the Dutch language, this seems to
        Message 3 of 21 , Mar 4, 2013
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          On 4 March 2013 07:27, J. 'Mach' Wust <j_mach_wust@...> wrote:
          > On Sun, 3 Mar 2013 17:11:03 -0500, Carsten Becker wrote:
          >
          >> On Sun, 3 Mar 2013 14:59:29 -0300, Leonardo Castro wrote:
          >>
          >>> BTW, in regard to the claim that "adults will never speak a
          >>>second language as a native", it's interesting to consider that
          >>>many natives will never speak "as natives" either. I mean, some
          >>>people from a language dialectal zone just _can't_ speak like the
          >>>natives of other places.
          >>>>
          >> Just an anecdote to share apropos of this – the state of
          >>Baden-Württemberg even made an advertisement slogan from that
          >>insight: "Wir können alles, außer Hochdeutsch" – "We can do
          >>anything, except speak Standard German" :)
          >
          > In the PISA tests (the OECD's Programme for International
          > Student Assessment), German-speaking Swiss children had higher
          > scores in language skills than children from Germany. Of course,
          > there can be lots of reasons for that, but one reason might be the
          > sort of bilingualism that comes from German-speaking Swiss being
          > able to consciously switch between the dialect and the standard
          > language.


          Interestingly, whenever Netherlanders and Flemish Belgians are pitted
          against eachother in contests based on command of the Dutch language,
          this seems to be echoed. The Flemish Belgians score much better on
          average, and like the German-speaking Swiss, they have more immediate
          exposure to a 'foreign' language in childhood.
        • Krista D. Casada
          I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it s not English (my
          Message 4 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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            I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it's not English (my first) that comes out. It's Spanish (the second).

            Krista C.
            ________________________________________
            From: Constructed Languages List [CONLANG@...] on behalf of Roger Mills [romiltz@...]
            Sent: Saturday, March 02, 2013 10:42 PM
            To: CONLANG@...
            Subject: Re: THEORY: Bilinguals Find It Easier to Learn a Third Language

            --- On Sat, 3/2/13, George Corley <gacorley@...> wrote:
            On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 4:36 PM, MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...> wrote:

            > On Sat, Mar 2, 2013 at 2:06 PM, Jeffrey Daniel Rollin-Jones <
            > jeff.rollin@...> wrote:
            >
            > > It probably also depends on what languages you learn.
            >
            >
            > I think not as much as you might expect. Any second language, even one very
            > similar to your L1, is still a different language with its own
            > peculiarities, and learning it will facilitate learning even a radically
            > different language.
            >

            This is certainly true for vocabulary. When I was learning Chinese, I
            would often describe the meanings of words in Spanish in my head, as well
            as English, in order to work out the different semantics and uses. It
            helps to have those multiple translations, since a simple English gloss for
            a word will not give you the myriad nuances of its meaning and usage.
            ================================================

            I'm not at all sure about this. It may also depend on the person...?

            I don't mean to boast, and I seem to have some innate love of languages...but--
            I had no trouble learning Latin, then Spanish, in high school. In college I took Italian, no problem (of course they're all closely related). I learned to read French on the fly, mainly from newspapers, back in the 50s. But enough that I could pass the Fr. reading exam in grad school (70s). STill can't speak it properly, even though I know how it's _supposed_ to sound.....

            In grad school (68-75) I took on Dutch (from reading + dictionary) then a required German reading course (vocab was easy, correct grammar wasn't , esp. the declination of the articles and adjectives.....) Plus, 3+ years of Indonesian, which never perplexed me either and which served me well when I went over there. And bits and pieces of lots of its relatives (< dictionaries and a little actual speaking in the field).

            One afternoon in grad school I sat down with a Chinese speaker and tried to figure out the tones. _That_ I just couldn't get (and I have trouble doing the tones in my own Conlang Gwr :-(((( ) Maybe formal course work would help, but at that time I wasn't really interested, sorry to say.

            I have the feeling (at least in my own mind) that the various semantic concepts (and the words associated with them, even my conlangs) are all stored in one place in the mind/brain. I can give you the words for "dog, love, eat, come, go, house"-- almost anything you might ask-- at the drop of a hat.
          • H. S. Teoh
            ... [...] I grew up with Hokkien (L1), Mandarin, English, and Malay. The first three are still in active use, but, being in Canada now, I have not used Malay
            Message 5 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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              On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:21:47PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
              > I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I
              > am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it's
              > not English (my first) that comes out. It's Spanish (the second).
              [...]

              I grew up with Hokkien (L1), Mandarin, English, and Malay. The first
              three are still in active use, but, being in Canada now, I have not used
              Malay for a very long time, and can no longer actively recall much of
              the vocabulary. Now that I've starting learning Russian, whenever I
              struggle to recall a Malay word, it's Russian that comes flooding into
              my brain instead. :-P


              T

              --
              Questions are the beginning of intelligence, but the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
            • Krista D. Casada
              Well, that s useful! At least your newest stays on top. My older new ones want to be first. (I occasionally have the terrible feeling that my brain is
              Message 6 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                Well, that's useful! At least your newest stays "on top." My older new ones want to be first. (I occasionally have the terrible feeling that my brain is divided in half, with my L1 on one side and everything else scrambling for space on the other.)

                Krista
                ________________________________________
                From: Constructed Languages List [CONLANG@...] on behalf of H. S. Teoh [hsteoh@...]
                Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:30 AM
                To: CONLANG@...
                Subject: Re: THEORY: Bilinguals Find It Easier to Learn a Third Language

                On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:21:47PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                > I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I
                > am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it's
                > not English (my first) that comes out. It's Spanish (the second).
                [...]

                I grew up with Hokkien (L1), Mandarin, English, and Malay. The first
                three are still in active use, but, being in Canada now, I have not used
                Malay for a very long time, and can no longer actively recall much of
                the vocabulary. Now that I've starting learning Russian, whenever I
                struggle to recall a Malay word, it's Russian that comes flooding into
                my brain instead. :-P


                T

                --
                Questions are the beginning of intelligence, but the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
              • H. S. Teoh
                ... [...] This isn t the first time this is brought up on this list. A long while back, there was a discussion about how we seem to have separate slots for
                Message 7 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                  On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:41:03PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                  > Well, that's useful! At least your newest stays "on top." My older new
                  > ones want to be first. (I occasionally have the terrible feeling that
                  > my brain is divided in half, with my L1 on one side and everything
                  > else scrambling for space on the other.)
                  [...]

                  This isn't the first time this is brought up on this list. A long while
                  back, there was a discussion about how we seem to have separate "slots"
                  for the language we acquired in our youth, but after a certain age, it
                  seems there's only one slot left for "foreign language", whatever that
                  may be, and trying to learn more than one at a time causes one to "crowd
                  out" the other(s).

                  Now I'm concerned that this is happening not only to languages I
                  acquired later in life, but also to childhood languages that haven't
                  been in active use. :-(


                  T

                  --
                  "You know, maybe we don't *need* enemies." "Yeah, best friends are about all I can take." -- Calvin & Hobbes
                • Paul Schleitwiler, FCM
                  For those experiencing difficulty recalling a language they haven t used in some time, I suggest a method I stumbled on that works for me. Spend a day
                  Message 8 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                    For those experiencing difficulty recalling a language they haven't used in
                    some time, I suggest a method I stumbled on that works for me.
                    Spend a day immersed in that one language, reading and listening to it,
                    speaking it aloud to yourself or others if possible. Sleep on it. The next
                    day, your old facility is back. Sort of as if you had reminded your brain
                    where the old connections were.
                    I think memory is stored inn the whole brain, like a hologram, not just a
                    few cells.

                    Interesting experiment reported recently of researchers putting human brain
                    glia cells into mice brains. The treated mice outperformed control mice in
                    learning mazes and in memory tests. Maybe it's not the size of the brain,
                    but the kind of components and their organization?
                    God bless you always, all ways,
                    Paul

                    On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:

                    > On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:41:03PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                    > > Well, that's useful! At least your newest stays "on top." My older new
                    > > ones want to be first. (I occasionally have the terrible feeling that
                    > > my brain is divided in half, with my L1 on one side and everything
                    > > else scrambling for space on the other.)
                    > [...]
                    >
                    > This isn't the first time this is brought up on this list. A long while
                    > back, there was a discussion about how we seem to have separate "slots"
                    > for the language we acquired in our youth, but after a certain age, it
                    > seems there's only one slot left for "foreign language", whatever that
                    > may be, and trying to learn more than one at a time causes one to "crowd
                    > out" the other(s).
                    >
                    > Now I'm concerned that this is happening not only to languages I
                    > acquired later in life, but also to childhood languages that haven't
                    > been in active use. :-(
                    >
                    >
                    > T
                    >
                    > --
                    > "You know, maybe we don't *need* enemies." "Yeah, best friends are about
                    > all I can take." -- Calvin & Hobbes
                    >
                  • Krista D. Casada
                    Interesting notions . . . ________________________________________ From: Constructed Languages List [CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU] on behalf of Paul
                    Message 9 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                      Interesting notions . . .
                      ________________________________________
                      From: Constructed Languages List [CONLANG@...] on behalf of Paul Schleitwiler, FCM [pjschleitwilerfcm@...]
                      Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:37 PM
                      To: CONLANG@...
                      Subject: Re: THEORY: Bilinguals Find It Easier to Learn a Third Language

                      For those experiencing difficulty recalling a language they haven't used in
                      some time, I suggest a method I stumbled on that works for me.
                      Spend a day immersed in that one language, reading and listening to it,
                      speaking it aloud to yourself or others if possible. Sleep on it. The next
                      day, your old facility is back. Sort of as if you had reminded your brain
                      where the old connections were.
                      I think memory is stored inn the whole brain, like a hologram, not just a
                      few cells.

                      Interesting experiment reported recently of researchers putting human brain
                      glia cells into mice brains. The treated mice outperformed control mice in
                      learning mazes and in memory tests. Maybe it's not the size of the brain,
                      but the kind of components and their organization?
                      God bless you always, all ways,
                      Paul

                      On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 10:14 AM, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:

                      > On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:41:03PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                      > > Well, that's useful! At least your newest stays "on top." My older new
                      > > ones want to be first. (I occasionally have the terrible feeling that
                      > > my brain is divided in half, with my L1 on one side and everything
                      > > else scrambling for space on the other.)
                      > [...]
                      >
                      > This isn't the first time this is brought up on this list. A long while
                      > back, there was a discussion about how we seem to have separate "slots"
                      > for the language we acquired in our youth, but after a certain age, it
                      > seems there's only one slot left for "foreign language", whatever that
                      > may be, and trying to learn more than one at a time causes one to "crowd
                      > out" the other(s).
                      >
                      > Now I'm concerned that this is happening not only to languages I
                      > acquired later in life, but also to childhood languages that haven't
                      > been in active use. :-(
                      >
                      >
                      > T
                      >
                      > --
                      > "You know, maybe we don't *need* enemies." "Yeah, best friends are about
                      > all I can take." -- Calvin & Hobbes
                      >
                    • H. S. Teoh
                      On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 12:37:46PM -0500, Paul Schleitwiler, FCM wrote: [...] ... [...] I ve always been skeptical about the claim that intelligence is
                      Message 10 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                        On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 12:37:46PM -0500, Paul Schleitwiler, FCM wrote:
                        [...]
                        > Interesting experiment reported recently of researchers putting human
                        > brain glia cells into mice brains. The treated mice outperformed
                        > control mice in learning mazes and in memory tests. Maybe it's not the
                        > size of the brain, but the kind of components and their organization?
                        [...]

                        I've always been skeptical about the claim that intelligence is
                        correlated with brain size. I like this idea that it's what components
                        are in there, that makes the difference.


                        T

                        --
                        "Hi." "'Lo."
                      • Leonardo Castro
                        ... Someone has told me that those who want to learn several languages should learn them in order of similarity, because it will make the learning process
                        Message 11 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                          2013/3/12 H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>:
                          > On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:21:47PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                          >> I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I
                          >> am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it's
                          >> not English (my first) that comes out. It's Spanish (the second).
                          > [...]
                          >
                          > I grew up with Hokkien (L1), Mandarin, English, and Malay. The first
                          > three are still in active use, but, being in Canada now, I have not used
                          > Malay for a very long time, and can no longer actively recall much of
                          > the vocabulary. Now that I've starting learning Russian, whenever I
                          > struggle to recall a Malay word, it's Russian that comes flooding into
                          > my brain instead. :-P

                          Someone has told me that those who want to learn several languages
                          should learn them in order of similarity, because it will make the
                          learning process easier. But, as someone interested in Comparative
                          Linguistics, I tend to do the opposite.

                          >
                          >
                          > T
                          >
                          > --
                          > Questions are the beginning of intelligence, but the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
                        • Dustfinger Batailleur
                          This. I had a similar experience with Russian, Hebrew, and English. When I moved to Canada, Russian and English remained in use and Hebrew faded away. After
                          Message 12 of 21 , Mar 12, 2013
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                            This. I had a similar experience with Russian, Hebrew, and English. When I
                            moved to Canada, Russian and English remained in use and Hebrew faded away.
                            After learning French through the school system, whenever I try to remember
                            a Hebrew word French words usually come to mind.

                            On 12 March 2013 10:30, H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...> wrote:

                            > On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 02:21:47PM +0000, Krista D. Casada wrote:
                            > > I find this Chinese-Spanish translation idea humorous because, when I
                            > > am struggling to express myself in Arabic (a third-ish language), it's
                            > > not English (my first) that comes out. It's Spanish (the second).
                            > [...]
                            >
                            > I grew up with Hokkien (L1), Mandarin, English, and Malay. The first
                            > three are still in active use, but, being in Canada now, I have not used
                            > Malay for a very long time, and can no longer actively recall much of
                            > the vocabulary. Now that I've starting learning Russian, whenever I
                            > struggle to recall a Malay word, it's Russian that comes flooding into
                            > my brain instead. :-P
                            >
                            >
                            > T
                            >
                            > --
                            > Questions are the beginning of intelligence, but the fear of God is the
                            > beginning of wisdom.
                            >
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