Sunday, January 11, 2009

Learning Spanish and Frontal Lobotomies

"It has been documented that the older one gets the more difficult it becomes to learn a foreign language."

I have often speculated that the very existence of Gringolandias, Gringo Gulches, expat sectors, and the like is because of the linguistic barrier. I may be wrong but it seems a tremendous work of logic to conclude that if Gringos would learn Spanish, they would not have to migrate to cities in Mexico that harbor the most intensively organized Gringolandia infrastructure.

There are exceptions.

I have collected over the years quotes by Gringos who live in these Bubbled compounds and who have either told me to my face or I've read their statements online. There are those Gringos who move to places like San Miguel de Allende and who will say something like:

"Why should I learn Spanish? These Mexicans are not all that interesting."

"Anyone who works for me has to speak English so why should I bother to learn it?"

These are but two statements that seem to be the dominate thinking for these English only Gringolandia.

Others have told me they are much too old to acquire a second language. Other than the Gringo, Carpet bagging mostly American the "too old" factor is cited most often as their reason for not learning Spanish.

Actually, there is no credible evidence to show that the older one becomes the more difficult it is to learn a foreign language. This belief is almost an urban myth and is not linguistically sound.

It is an emotional issue that prevents adults from trying and succeeding to learn Spanish.

Researchers Krashen, Long, and Scarcella showed that,

"Studies comparing the rate of second language acquisition in children and adults have shown that although children may have an advantage in achieving native-like fluency in the long run, adults actually learn languages more quickly than children in the early stages. (Krashen, Long, and Scarcella, 1979)."

The conclusion this study draws is adults can develop a working ability in the target language much faster than a child can. So just where did this hideous stereotype about adults learning foreign language originate? It came from some very old science.

There used to be a theory on "brain development" from the 1960's that taught that there was a "crucial period" an individual had before the brain lost its "plasticity," making learning a second language too difficult. (Lenneberg, 1967)

It was a belief that if you didn't get your second language learning done before puberty, your goose was pretty well cooked. Modern studies have shown though some differences between how a child and an adult learns a second language do exist, the older learner has the distinct advantage. The adult learner of Spanish can learn the language faster because of the following:

1. The adult's maturely-developed brain has the superior ability to understand the relationship between semantics and grammar.

2. The adult's brain is more mature in its ability to absorb vocabulary, grammatical structures, and to make more "higher order" generalizations and associations.

3. The adult learner's better-developed brain is better at "putting together all the pieces" with a more developed long-term memory.

The biggest obstacle for the adult is the emotional factor. Adults have bought into the myth that they just cannot do it. They are also afraid of making fools of themselves. I have often thought this is the reason children seem to learn Spanish faster than adults do-they are not afraid of the embarrassment factor.

Children also seem to learn Spanish faster because of the natural method to which they resort. They approach learning a foreign language in the identical manner they did when they learned their native language. If you have children, you witnessed this event. Was there not a time when you just knew that your "yet-to-speak anything other than goo-goo and ga-ga" child understood far more than he was letting on?

A chief problem is in the phrase, "language learning." What most people do not realize is there is a difference between language acquisition and language learning. Language acquisition, the ability to engage in spoken fluency, involves a different area of the brain than does language learning.

Unless you've sustained a horrid brain injury like a lobotomy, you can learn Spanish or any foreign language you desire. The research proves this is not only possible but that if you resort to the "Natural Method" of any second language acquisition you will succeed.

The Steps to Fluency in Any Language

1. Listening First

Why You Have to Listen First and Speak Later in Second Language Learning

Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 1
Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 2
Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 3
Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 4
Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 5
Learning Spanish - Begin By Listening - Part 6

2. Production in the Language

The Learnables - This course will offer you a "listening only" introduction to Spanish, and other languages, that will build a speech center in your brain for your targeted language. You need this "period of silence" of training your ear to the sounds or music of the language.

Rocket Spanish– This begins the second stage of acquiring spoken fluency. First, you engaged in INPUT with The Learnables. Second, you begin your OUTPUT stage with Rocket Spanish. This is your first attempt at speaking the language. You will develop much vocabulary and learn how to speak the language.

Lately, I have been recommending the Rocket Languages after The Learnables for your introduction into the Production Stage of second Language Acquisition.

Click On This Link Reach The Main ROCKET SPANISH Website!

Learn Spanish Like A ROCKET With Rocket Spanish!...Who Else Wants to Learn to Speak Spanish Confidently and Naturally In Less Than 8 Weeks??... AND take all the frustration, difficulty and headache out of YOUR practice time with this EXPLOSIVE interactive 'learn Spanish' package!







3. Mastering the Rapid Fire Spanish

Immersion Plus Spanish – One of the most misunderstood parts of becoming fluent in any language is the need of training your ear in the target language. What I mean is, if you cannot hear the euphony or music of the language, you will rarely, if ever, be able to understand what someone is saying to you in the target language. I live in Mexico. I can tell you though I went through massive preparation before coming to Mexico, I did not count on the speed at which the locals speak. It is remarkably fast! This course, by design, will help you with this problem. It addresses this common issue.

SMART SPANISH – This will help further train your ear in the music of the language. It is a great program because it records live interviews with Spanish speakers from Colombians to Spaniards. It dissects the interviews for grammar and vocabulary. Then, the speakers speak at different speeds so you can follow with or without a transcript.


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