Ladies and Gentlemen,

Almost all of you have learnt English as a second or foreign language, and many of you who speak English as your first language have studied other languages as second or foreign languages. At what age did you start learning a new language? Do you think you have learnt or acquired a second/foreign language? Note that learning a language typically involves studies and commitedness, whereas those who acquire a language learn it without even noticing they are, as a matter of fact, learning a language i.e. they are learning the language more or less the same way people acquite their native tongue. I am looking forward to your replies.

Englishuser
Hello Englishuser,

I was eleven years old when I took my first english class...I have learned English as a second language; definitely it wasn't something simply acquired; I had to do loads of assignments. I guess you have to be surrounded by native speakers to acquire a new language. Living in the States for a couple of years made me acquire some additional stuff to what I have already learned...and recently I was in Syria for one and a half month. I guess I can say I acquired Arabic just enough to find my way and have a basic conversation for my needs and to get to know people a little...

Just out of curiosity, how did you come up with such a question? Are you in teaching business? Would you also tell whether you have learned or acquired a second language...

Take care...Emotion: smile
Dear Hena,

First of all, thank you very much for taking time to deal with my post.

Yes, most of the time you need to be surrounded by native speakers in order to acquire a new language. This tends to be the case when people move to another country at a young age. Some people also acquire a language thanks to TV programmes, the radio, and films. This sounds unbelievable, but it actually happens.

It was nice to read about your experiences as a person learning English. I am sure you have found your English studies useful as you now live in the United States. I also became curious as you told us about you learning Arabic in Syria. Some people say it takes around three months to "learn a new language" if you spend time in a country where the language is spoken natively, others say it takes six months or even a year to learn a language for communicational purposes. Of course we are all individuals in the sense that some of us learn faster than others, mostly because people's brains are differently wired.

I asked the question because I find language learning an interesting topic. I am particularly interested in comparisons between people's age when they started to learn a new language (their age of onset), how they learnt the language (i.e. in an traditional classroom where the teacher used the grammar-translation methodod or some other way), and how proficient they actually are in the language. I am not a language teacher myself, and my experience in the field of language learning/teaching is very limited, so I suppose you could say I am interested in this kind of things as a layperson.

All the best to you.

Englishuser
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
The conventional classroom approach is useful insomuch as it might trigger a certain thinking process: For those of you who have attended English classes, you have certainly noticed that you can't really learn the language that way. So you start asking yourself if there is an alternative to traditional English classes. That's the moment when you realize that you will learn the language only if change your communication habits. It's interesting but so many people think they can learn English by attending English classes. So far I have not seen a single person who would have achieved an advanced level of the language in a classroom. Still, most people regard this as the right approach.