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Old 02-08-2013, 12:50 AM
 
94 posts, read 131,395 times
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Even though I know that you can "learn" at any age, at which does it become harder to perfect it? Is there an age at which you can never get rid of the accent?

Has anyone had an experience learning a language at a later age? If so what age, and how bad is your accent?
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:59 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
6,112 posts, read 10,148,533 times
Reputation: 4850
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maksud90 View Post
Even though I know that you can "learn" at any age, at which does it become harder to perfect it? Is there an age at which you can never get rid of the accent?

Has anyone had an experience learning a language at a later age? If so what age, and how bad is your accent?
To be perfectly native in two languages, ideally no later than 3 years of age, possibly 5, probably no later than 7 or 8 (and even then frequent use of both going forward is necessary). After that you would probably have at least a slight accent for life.

Of course, you can become bilingual or at least fluent in some aspect of a language at any age, provided that you have the natural talent first of all, then a huge advantage is prior experience at a younger age if starting after around 21 years of age, certainly strong desire, and the capacity in your current life situation to dedicate time and focused energy.

I started a second language in middle school, continued with three others in high school, then started on a path to becoming bilingual in two other languages in university and over the ensuing twenty years, while achieving fluency in at least one aspect (mostly reading comprehension) in several other languages along the way for a total five modern languages (not including my native language) and two ancient languages, the last two modern languages and one ancient language attempted in the 35-40 year-old range, achieving bilingual status in one of those two modern languages (in addition to one previous to that), intermediate status in the other of those two, and fluency in reading comprehension in the ancient language. Prior to that, I had also attempted several others and failed. So, in modern languages, I am basically trilingual, with a slight-to-moderate accent in the two of the non-native languages.

Degree of accent probably depends on several factors, including skill set and experience (see above), and phonetic differences among the languages you are involved in.

Good Luck!

Last edited by bale002; 02-08-2013 at 03:10 AM..
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:29 PM
 
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
1,484 posts, read 1,644,715 times
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If someone want to learn another language without accents denoting the foreign origin, about 7-8 years-old is probably the maximum limit. But if you don't care about accents, I think there is no limit. My mother started to learn French with the age of 50. Nowadays, 57 years-old, she is fluent.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:07 PM
 
391 posts, read 764,373 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maksud90 View Post
Even though I know that you can "learn" at any age, at which does it become harder to perfect it? Is there an age at which you can never get rid of the accent?

Has anyone had an experience learning a language at a later age? If so what age, and how bad is your accent?
I concur with what everything bale002 said, and would add my own thoughts:

Provided with "the right practice", starting another language is best done before one's teenage years: in my experience with second language acquisition studies, this is usually before (around) fifteen. Others have mentioned before seven or eight, which I agree but would like to add in, this is for fluent speakers; you can still learn a language later in life and be accurate. Learning early (earlier) will greatly reduce your "accent", but this doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. You have to take into account, as bale002 wrote, your linguistic aptitude, what you're starting with (learning a second language as opposed to a foreign language), how different your native language is from the target language, your motivation, and resources. This is what I referred to as "the right practice". Moreover, what the purpose of your second language will also be an influential factor: is it just for family, business, survival, academic, and so forth.

There are people, though, that can pick up multiple languages with facility and speak fluently (if not fluently, then at least accurately). Again, this can be attributed to simple aptitude or diligent effort. There are also examples of people losing a language through the lack of practice, even if they are fairly fluent.

Case in point: I am a native speaker of Polish but since I moved to the USA years ago, I spoke English everywhere. I spoke Polish at home but eventually, it degraded to a semi-fluent semi-accurate state where I have an accent. I started Spanish at age 12 and studied it ten years, but after two or so years of non-practice, my American accent prevailed.

An acquaintance of mine who is a native English speaker took Polish in college: this was his first time learning it, he was about twenty years old, and it may or may not have been his first second-language learning experience. Result? He was miserable at it. This could be attributed to the fact that he just wasn't apt enough to learn the language, or the teaching experience didn't suit his learning style, or that it was a foreign language as opposed to a second language, or... As you can see, it's variable and cannot be applied to everyone.

I've taught English to a variety of people and some are really good at it, others are miserable. Most are young (in their twenties) and have been learning for quite some time. All have accents, though a few excel beyond the problem of accents and have problems with accuracy. It's quite amazing how diverse the problems can be despite starting at different ages, with different backgrounds (school taught vs. survival vs. self-taught vs. other)
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:04 PM
 
Location: Bel Air, California
20,344 posts, read 20,415,914 times
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When you are standing before the pearly gates and the man in the booth says to you...

?Puedo ver sus documentos

it's too late to learn a new language
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:56 PM
 
882 posts, read 1,724,787 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghengis View Post
When you are standing before the pearly gates and the man in the booth says to you...

?Puedo ver sus documentos

it's too late to learn a new language
Agreed 100%. I've known many folks who have become incredibly fluent in another language at every age group - and I would argue that several have become the equivalent of a native speaker.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:57 PM
 
9,972 posts, read 14,014,718 times
Reputation: 9193
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghengis View Post
When you are standing before the pearly gates and the man in the booth says to you...

?Puedo ver sus documentos

it's too late to learn a new language
I always thought they be speaking Italian up there... Or maybe Latin or Aramaic.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:33 PM
 
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
1,484 posts, read 1,644,715 times
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Some languages are easier to learn than others depending on the native language of the student.

A native English speaker will probably learn better German if he studies Dutch first. And will also probably learn better Spanish or Italian if he studies French first. The English language has the advantage of belonging to Germanic, but with much - if not most - of the vocabulary being borrowed from Romance languages and Latin.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:58 PM
 
Location: Europe, in the Land of the mean
942 posts, read 1,489,674 times
Reputation: 637
Bale, I am impressed by your being a polyglot but my brain freezed over after language # 7. Could you please tell us which tongues they were ,really want to know

Always think of you as baleful when I see your name..
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Europe, in the Land of the mean
942 posts, read 1,489,674 times
Reputation: 637
Regarding language learning, just check out my status Suffice to say I'm not a "Bale"!
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