Why children find it easier to learn languages
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Currently, 40 per cent of the world's estimated 7,000 languages may go extinct, having less than 1,000 speakers.
Chinese is the largest language if we include only native speakers, but English is the largest if we include native and non-native speakers. English is the language of science, the internet and much academic research and is likely to remain important in the future.
People often think that languages like Russian, Arabic or Japanese are harder to learn, but it is subjective.
Words from different languages have the same etymological origin, such as 'brother' in English and 'Bruder' in German. But languages with different phonetics will be harder to learn. For example, languages such as Thai, Chinese or Vietnamese use tones to change a word's meaning. If you already speak a tonal language, it would be easier to learn another tonal one.
The key ingredient in learning a language is time—ideally, hundreds of hours. Then it would be best if you practise regularly.
Research shows the best approach to learn a language is being immersed in it - not just learning words and grammar. Reading magazines, watching TV and talking to native speakers will solidify the learning.
According to a new study, the people that can speak two languages frequently, develop cognitive flexibility, due to their brains getting rewired.
Bilinguals can switch back and forth between the two languages effortlessly, something known as code-switching.
Learning a language is often presented as a task with a one-size-fits-all solution. But learning a new language is working out the goals and strategies specific to you.
Every language is different and presents its own challenges. When you learn a new language, forget about fluency. Set achievable, short-term and measurable goals that will give you a sense of achievement.
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