Thursday, October 23, 2008

Your Age Does Not Matter!

Imagine a 60 year old who has had a "little Spanish" moves to Mexico for the first time in his life. Within four months after taking daily Spanish lessons is able to conduct his business in Spanish and order around his Mexican employees in Spanish.

Is this the accomplishment of a linguistic genius? Nope.

Sven-Göran Eriksson had managed soccer in four different countries and spoke five languages until earlier this month. He is now the Mexico City soccer coach but arrived in Mexico, for the first time in his life, with little to no Spanish under his language belt.

The fact that he already had fluency in other language is not an indication of a gifted linguist. He is not a linguist. He is a guy who played soccer for Sweden until an injury benched him permanently in 1975. He went on to successfully manage teams in Swedish clubs as well as internationally.

Eriksson is a fine example of someone in the later years of his life not letting the issue of age stand in the way of language acquisition. The science shows that it is not "giftedness" that allows someone to become multilingual. It is, rather, someone who does not let the "Affective Factor"stand in the way of becoming fluent.

Eriksson is also a perfect example of what the past 40 years of research in linguistics has shown:

"Incidentally, there is no evidence that the "biological wiring" for language acquisition changes as the infant develops into childhood and then adulthood. And, indeed, our experiments (Asher, 2000) together with classroom observations of children and adults (Garcia, 2001) suggest that a linear progression from comprehension to production is imperative for most students (perhaps 95%) if they are to achieve multi-skill fluency in a second language. (James J. Asher, Ph.D.)

Check out this article for some of the theory then this website for some ideas on how to get started.

You can learn whatever language you want and that is because you are hardwired to do so.

And, I just have to add this: This is an indictment of each monolingual Gringo who moves to Mexico and NEVER learn Spanish.

No comments: