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13 votes

Is there any language simply too difficult for non-native speakers to learn/speak?

There is at least one natural language (as opposed to the conlang Ithkuil mentioned by michau) that is impossible for non-native speakes to learn: Sentinelese. The reason is that it will probably cost ...
  • 19.3k
7 votes

How did Cardinal Mezzofanti learn foreign languages?

This question was posted so long ago, but I will post an answer because you might still be looking for it. First of all, I would like to draw you attention to the fact that if all that is being said ...
  • 373
6 votes
Accepted

What is the origin of the terms L1 and L2?

H. H. Stern in Fundamental Concepts of Language Teaching traces the L1/L2 distinction back to the 1959 article, The teaching of English as a foreign language by J.C. Catford: The ‘L1’/‘L2’ ...
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5 votes

What is the fastest known time a person went from not knowing to fluently proficient in a language?

I came across this interview by The Economist with Timothy Doner, who was a teenage polyglot (the interview is from 2013, when he was 17 years old) that had "learned" 20 languages in four years. That ...
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5 votes

What are some of the oldest documented language learning techniques or resources?

One notable early example is Panini's Astadhyayi. The book provides a systematic study of the grammar of Sanskrit, a primary language of Hindu scripture, which was already sufficiently archaic that ...
5 votes

How did Cardinal Mezzofanti learn foreign languages?

The following is an excerpt taken from a book by Thomas Pendergast written in 1864 entitled 'The Mastery of Languages' (it can be found on The Forgotten books website). It pretty much sums up what ...
  • 51
4 votes
Accepted

What are some of the oldest documented language learning techniques or resources?

Probably the Lexical Lists containing Akkadian-Sumerian word correspondences from the 3rd millenium BC on are the oldest language learning materials. They were intended for speakers of Akkadian to ...
3 votes

Is there any language simply too difficult for non-native speakers to learn/speak?

If we take conlangs into account, Ithkuil is such a language. Wikipedia says: "No person, including Quijada [the creator of the language], is known to be able to speak Ithkuil fluently.". However, we ...
  • 2,264
3 votes

What are some of the oldest documented language learning techniques or resources?

The Chinese hadn't really discovered syntax or morphology before they got in contact with the West. They hadn't even had the concept of a word (as opposed to a character). But it doesn't mean, of ...
  • 2,264
2 votes
Accepted

What was the first computer-based spaced repetition system?

The wired's portrait of SuperMemo creator Piotr Wozniak states that there had been experimental software before SuperMemo, which apparently never got out of the labs: The best time to study ...
2 votes

What was the first language learning website?

The blogpost 6 Of The Oldest Japanese Language Learning & Culture Websites list some potential candidates. Reiko-Chan’s Japanese for Anime Lovers was possibly launched in July 1998. The original ...
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