On Sun, Jan 3, 2010 at 6:04 AM, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
On Sun, Jan 3, 2010 at 1:04 AM, MacLeod Dave <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Sure they do. Put any adult in the same situation (24hr immersion for
>> 10 years) and they would always, always beat the child to fluency.
>> Remember we're talking about a situation where the adult is also
>> crassly mocked for making errors. No holds barred.
> Oh, and there's also no escape either, no giving up on the immersion
> program, since children can't just up and give up on their lives
> either.

I think that's sort of the take-home lesson here, which is that
comparing child learning to adult learning isn't really fair. They're
completely different situations. Another interesting but not
interesting tidbit is that many adults end up failing in their
attempts, whereas children never do (unless they are deaf or have a
serious intellectual disability). The situation is totally different:
children don't have the option to give up. So to say that children are
better at language learning than adults, or vis versa, is not really a
very interesting statement.

However, I do think that there are elements that make languages easier
for adults to learn, in ways that don't apply to children. And since
an auxlang is sort of by definition intended to be a universal L2, an
auxlang should be more concerned about what is easy for adults to
learn than children. For example, regularity.

Jens Wilkinson
Neo Patwa (

Hear, hear! I was never bugged in a language class so much as when I was required to attend Berlitz Portuguese lessons. The Berlitz method (learn as a child does) was so inappropriate but the teacher was contract-bound not to vary (though she took pity and provided relief occasionally).