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Learning a language like a child

I wrote a new blog post about what we can learn from kids when it comes to language learning:

No, I don't think, that we can and should learn languages exactly like kids. But some habits kids have can be useful for adult learners as well. We just need to adapt them a bit. 

Apr 12, 2018 6:04 PM
Comments · 41
Also, this is a language learning platform and I just hate when native speakers discourage language learners by ridiculing their posts. 
April 12, 2018


First of all: the name of the user is Lamyae, not Layme. 

Second: it’s pretty clear that Lamyae refers to starting with listening because that’s how children start to learn their mother tongue. Lamyae doesn’t say that children choose their mother tongue.

How about first reading the posts carefully before offending others?

April 12, 2018

@Mrs Tad

Is it really controversial nowadays to suggest learning like a child? I see it on every other teacher profile. "Why bother with grammar? Children don't learn grammar!" (This strange idea stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to "learn grammar" and how the process occurs.)

Or, "How did you learn your native language? Did you have to bother with silly things like paradigm tables and flashcards? No, play, have fun, just like a child." 

What's controversial or unusual today is challenging this popular idea and showing why it doesn't work. It also creates a false separation between "knowing a language" and "mastering the grammar of a language." If you don't master - or least have a good grasp of - the grammar of a language, you can't claim to know it.

April 12, 2018

You cannot learn like a kid. You do not have a child's brain and do not absorb information like a sponge the way children do. 

Welcome back, Miriam, by the way.

April 12, 2018

@Mrs Tad

A little controversial, makes little difference in this case.

My point is that the supposedly revolutionary and contested idea of "learning like a child" is not new or particularly original in the field of foreign language acquisition. And it irritates me when I see teachers writing on their profiles that it's their entire approach to language teaching, and particularly when they act as if they have come up with some brilliant innovative method that overturns supposedly terrible "traditional" - catchall - schooling. It's not new, and more importantly, not effective, as a foundational approach. 

I don't see why extensive listening, reading, immersion and repetition have to be labeled as a way of learning that is "like that of a child." 

April 12, 2018
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), French, German
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)