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I always wondered if the difference relied in some inherent neural difference that came with age, or how we approached learning languages.

I picked up 3, and then added a 4th language by accident (parents needed a secret language for adult conversations. To their horror, one day I started speaking to them in that language...), but I learned none of them. Hard not to pick up a language when you are immersed by it, and you don't see kids running around with language books, but rather getting actively taught and spoken to in a specific language.

But immersion can be harder as an adult too. People might not be as patient with you, and especially if you know English, people will just switch to it on the first hint of a struggle, making immersion hard to attain.

But this article doesn't clarify that.






> I picked up 3, and then added a 4th language by accident (parents needed a secret language for adult conversations. To their horror, one day I started speaking to them in that language...)

Wait, you can’t leave us hanging. Please tell us more about this or point us to a blog or something. I love that story.


No blog unfortunately, but I remember when I let it slip - I corrected them about something they were saying about a family member, in Russian. Though, Russian was all around us, so you would even get to use it at shops, at school, etc. No longer taught as a language, because English aligned better with the country's priorities for the future, but still pervasive.

A year or so after, Harry Potter wasn't out in my native language, so I switched to the Russian copy, and I was able to read fairly comfortably. The joys of immersion :)


> especially if you know English, people will just switch to it on the first hint of a struggle, making immersion hard to attain.

Maybe in Europe. I had someone switch to English on me and shortly afterward ask permission to switch back, having gotten tired out. It's more common not to switch at all.

The worst case was a guy working for an apartment rental company who got fed up with texting and just called me. I can text. I can't speak.


> People might not be as patient with you, and especially if you know English, people will just switch to it on the first hint of a struggle, making immersion hard to attain.

Just go places in the world where people don't speak English, then that fall-back option doesn't exist.

I learned French quickly while driving through West Africa!


But those places are less in some places than others. I'm in Norway. I live here, and it isn't like I can just go to another place that speaks Norwegian. Children start learning English at age 6. Most adult English-language television has subtitles instead of dubbed: Console games are in English most times. Advertisements have a mix of english and Norwegian.

People are quick to use English. Very quick.

The main portion of the population that doesn't do so well with English are older folks, in my mother's age group or older. I also have a very good chance that the person I'm speaking to can understand english even if their speaking skills aren't the best.

Immersion simply doesn't happen the same here.




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