知識分享自然習得

解謎: 其實大人學語言比較快,只是敗在兩個地方

一般普遍認為小孩學語言的能力比大人好,但是真的是這樣嗎? 下面的研究結果恰與一般的認知相反:

It is widely believed that children are better language learners than adults, but does this really hold up under scientific inquiry? The following results may surprise you:

以色列海法大學的語言學者,想測試不同年齡的人學新語言的能力,於是他們找來三組分別是八歲、十二歲和成人的受試者。他們先創造一個新語言,然後提供幾個例子讓受試者聽,結果成人不論在學新語言規則、記憶時間和發音上都勝出。

Linguists at the University of Haifa, Israel tested the ability of groups of 8-year-olds, 12-year-olds, and adults to infer a new, made-up language rule after hearing several examples. Adults consistently performed better than children on every measure, whether in their ability to learn the new rule, how long they remembered it, or in their pronunciation of the made-up language.

False analogy

因為小孩學母語通常不會失敗,而大人學語言卻經常失敗,一般人看到這個現象就認為小孩學語言有天分,不過這不是一個公平的比較。

Of course, children never fail to learn their native language, while the story of adult language learning is riddled with failures. It’s understandable that most people observe this and conclude that children are naturally more gifted language learners. However, this falsely assumes that adults and children use comparable methods.

小孩子出生後的前幾年,要先花上千個小時沉浸在母語裡然後才開口說話,對小孩來說學語言不是一個選擇,而是生存問題。他們透過模仿、重複、厚著臉皮犯下無數錯誤來把第一個語言學好。相對的,大人花在學語言上的時間少多了,就算學不好也可以輕易放棄沒有關係。

In their first years of life, children spend literally thousands of hours immersed in their target language before they even utter their first sentence. When they do start speaking, they learn by imitation, repetition, and especially by making thousands of errors. Furthermore, for children, language learning isn’t ever a choice; it’s a matter of survival. Adults, on the other hand, typically have much less invested in their language learning, and suffer much lighter consequences for giving up. The amount of time adults usually invest is correspondingly negligible.

Successful adult language learners

美國的Middlebury College的沉浸式語言課是個很好的例子,說明大人用小孩學語言的方式會有怎樣的效果–他們要求學生在課程第一天,必須先簽署承諾接下來三個月、每天二十四小時只能用目標語溝通。果然,這樣學的大人通常幾個月內就能從零到流利的程度,成效遠比小孩子好太多。

The immersive language school at Middlebury College in Vermont is an example of what happens when adults try learning the same way as children. Students at Middlebury sign a pledge on their first day promising to speak nothing but their target language for the next three months, 24 hours a day. Indeed, adults who learn at Middlebury college often reach fluency in a matter of months, not years. In other words, they leave children in the dust.

既然如此,為什麼大人學不好語言呢? 目前為止通常都錯在兩點:

  1. 把語言當一個呆板的學科,忘記使用那個語言的人,是為了用來表達他們的想法和感覺。
  2. 通常只是旁觀沒有參與,看電視、聽播客、看書、或 YouTube 頻道、上課…都只是”旁觀”,並沒有開口、也沒有互動,看很多而沒有用出來,只是形成一團模糊的觀念卡在腦子裡。

Why is it, then, that so many adult language learners fail? In our experience, the main reasons are twofold:

  1. Maintaining emotional distance from the language, forgetting that language is primarily a way to express yourself: your experience, emotions, and your desires.
  2. Learning passively instead of actually immersing yourself in the language. For example, reading books, watching TV or YouTube channels, and attending cram schools are all passive learning methods: they may help, but they aren’t sufficient.

Natural English

因此在自然習得口說訓練,我們把實用的對話變成各種幽默的題材,學生就能投入情緒去理解、感受、模仿。再訓練學生不斷和母語人士互動使用那些表達,這樣去複製小孩歡樂和直接的學習經驗,達到最好的效果。下面是我們的教材範例和學生上課練習,有興趣的朋友歡迎4/7來參加我們的新課程說明會。

In our Natural English Acquisition class, we use humorous but realistic teaching materials in a safe, encouraging environment to help students overcome their fear of mistakes, giving students plenty of opportunities to use the language in interaction with native speakers. You can see examples of our teaching material and in-class practice below.

你覺得這篇文章有用嗎?
有用!7
還好1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *