Somehow I came across this BBC article a few weeks ago and it has been sitting in a browser tab waiting for me to read. It’s Sunday morning and I’m closing tabs and so finally read it.
I am not fluent in a second language and it is something that really bothers me. As someone who has struggled to learn a second language via self study as an adult I think it’s important to note that these people all seem to have learned through immersion (they lived someplace where the language is spoken) and started learning languages early in life.
I have noticed that immersion makes learning easier by a factor of at least 10. I spent a year or so studying Brazilian Portuguese as much as I could. I made several trips to Brazil for work during that time and found that I learned more in a week just by being there than I could learn in a month studying at home. It’s possible to learn another language without moving and being immersed in it, but it is very difficult and is going to take much longer.