Research proving there’s no such thing as “it’s hard for me to absorb new languages”

The research that proves everyone can acquire more languages

The world is large and contains different cultures, societies, customs and languages. There are currently 7,102 different languages in the world. 23 languages are the mother tongue for the world’s more than 50 million citizens.

Sometimes the world seems to be divided in two: those who pick up languages quickly and those who simply don’t. But we have already realized that the world is not only black and white and recently the argument arises that learning a foreign language is less related to the talent you are born with and more to the learning environment and exposure to the same language.

In 1960, it was the outrageous Noam Chomsky who introduced the world to his theory of learning languages – a language acquisition device. According to him, children are born with universal abilities for learning grammar and vocabulary, and these abilities allow them to learn each language individually. In a nutshell, acquiring a language is quite simple for them because that’s how they’re wired.

But other researchers disagree with Chomsky. According to the linguist Yukio Otsu, Chomsky’s theory does not refer to different dialects and accents. That is, the “language purchase standard” he conceived allows the child to learn American English for example, but this will not help him learn British or Australian English.

Linguistic toolbox

But despite the detractors, a study published in February this year by Florida Atlantic University supports Chomsky’s theory. The researchers tested the learning abilities of students who speak Spanish as a native language and English as a second language and discovered that they had adapted a unique toolkit for themselves to deal with each language.

The study was carried out on students across the U.S., where the researchers found that the more Spanish-speaking children were exposed to the English language, the better it improved, and spanish deteriorated. The conclusion of the researchers is that there are indeed different toolboxes for each language among each person. For if the children used the same “rules” to purchase each language, then there would be no decline in the Spanish language.

These findings are very important because they indicate the human brain’s ability to acquire each language individually, without labeling that “I do not have access to languages.”

Bottom line

The team of researchers from the University of Florida believes that the lip barrier that some of us have is more affected by the environment than our innate abilities. If true, it means that every person, in the right environment, will be able to learn an unlimited number of languages at once.


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