“What makes it so difficult for adults to learn a foreign language as children do? The answer is very simple: we are not exposed enough to the target language”
Some years ago I read an extremely interesting article about Dr. Paul Sulzberger, a researcher from Victoria University in New Zealand.
Dr. Sulzberger started his PhD research after he saw many students drop out of his Russian language classes because they were not making significant progress. He was interested to know what makes it so difficult to learn a foreign language when we are constantly learning new words in our native tongue.
He found the answer in the way the brain develops the appropiated neural tissue to learn new patterns of sounds:
– Children learn a language without conscious study since they are babies, they learn how to speak by listening to the sound of mother talking.
– Neural tissue required to learn and understand a new language will develop automatically from simple exposure to the language, which is how babies learn their first language. -He says-.
Dr. Sulzberger searched for ways to make the learning process easier for students, giving the following advices:
– To learn a language, you have to grow the appropiate brain tissue, and you get this by doing lots of listening. Frequently listening to Spanish language will dramatically boost your ability to pick up the language.
– One hour a day of studying Spanish text in a classroom is not enough, but an extra hour of listening to Spanish on an Ipod will make a huge difference-.
It may sound crazy, but the simply exposure to the language will not only help you progress. You can really learn Spanish by just listening.
Many language teachers will not agree with his revealing research and conclusions, but they are based on facts. No, It does not sound crazy at all Dr. Sulzberger. We all need to rethink from top to bottom the way languages are being taught. Our rigid system of teaching languages does not help much.