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According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), there are categorical rankings of difficulty in learning a language relative to English. A list can be found here with approximate time to become adequate in that language. Another concept closely related to this is Linguistic Distance. Linguistic distance involves how similar one language is to another (...


11

It is definitely possible. There are many language learners who have learned an L2 from birth or a very young age, and thus, have mastered the pronunciation in the language. Others have years of exposure to the L2 inside the home, conversing with native speakers. However, for non-native speakers who have not been learning the language for a long period of ...


8

It is possible, but I am not aware of many adult learners who have achieved this (in spite of watching many YouTube videos about language learning). The example that always come to mind is Dashan or Mark Rowswell, a Canadian who started learning Chinese at university and became so good at it that he could do xiangsheng or "crosstalk", a Chinese type of ...


7

My linguistics professors at university told me that all languages are roughly equally difficult because children learn their native language at roughly the same speed across the world. Languages that are difficult in one respect (say, morphology) are usually easier in another respect (say, word order). However, "language" in this kind of statement refers to ...


7

Firstly, it does seem that some languages might be inherently more difficult than other languages to learn in the classroom. This is because many languages have large amounts of irregulars, exceptions to grammar rules, and things like that. Some languages also have larger useful lexicons than others, but that seems pretty marginal. However, given that ...


6

Yes, there is such a thing as an inherent difficulty of a language. All languages are learnable by children, but it is clear that there are features that require more time to learn, and languages having these features can be classified as inherently harder than others. Consider research on first-language acquisition of past tense inflection in Icelandic, ...


6

Oh yes it can. (Source) For some people in America, learning English means they go through subtractive bilingualism, where they learn English at the same time they lose their native language(s): Specifically, this article deals with the phenomenon of "subtractive bilingualism," the name given the problem by Wallace Lambert who first discussed it in ...


5

Failure to understand what you read may be caused either by reader factors or text factors or environmental factors. Often a combination of two or more factors is the reason for misunderstanding. Reader factors include proficiency in the language of the text, especially vocabulary and grammar, background knowledge and interest in the topic of the text, and ...


5

There is no reason to think that a Passive Bilingual/Speaker can't become a fluent speaker. In fact, they should have an easier time than someone who is learning the language from scratch. The main issue the person will have to overcome, and this could be a mental block, is actively using the language. They are so used to just listening and comprehending ...


5

It is possible. But very few people achieve native-like pronunciation. Example: There is a popular Russian TV host Vladimir Pozner. He grew up in US. His parents spoke French at home. When Vladimir was 18, his father decided to return to USSR and Vladimir had to learn Russian. Not only he mastered the language and pronunciation, he became a very popular TV ...


5

How Children Learn Language is a book that covers this topic. This is the book's summary: Demonstrating how children learn to produce and distinguish between sounds, and their acquisition of words and meanings, this book explains their incredible mastery of language. William O'Grady provides readers with an overview not only of the language acquisition ...


4

It depends on what you consider 'mastering' the language to mean. Firstly, I would have to say that the 'difficulty' of every other language is relative to the language you already know, and perhaps, that answers your question in itself, but I'll continue. If you consider just the speaking, for example, no language is more or less difficult than any other ...


4

You can improve and get close, very refined, very mild, but getting an indistinguishable-from-native accent in adulthood is so rare as to be practically unheard of. And in my experience, there's a large talent factor. I know that's not a popular opinion, but I believe it is the actual truth. Everyone can improve, but that doesn't mean some people aren't ...


4

CEFR "is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages" (from Wikipedia). By definition it applies to L2 only. You can obviously estimate levels of native speakers but this is not what the framework was designed to do. One could argue, and many clearly do, that most adult natives don't reach C2 level, and many poorly educated ...


3

I think it depends on what aspect of the language you're talking about. For reading and writing, English, being a primarily phonetic written language (albeit very irregular), seems to be easier to learn than Chinese. You can see the syllables written out and compare that with other words you already know. You can guess how to write something based on how ...


3

As a native English speaker who lives in England, I have heard some teenagers from the Netherlands who have a neutral English accent that for about 15 minutes I thought were English, the problem is that with very high-level English the density of idiomatic phrases becomes impossible to avoid and I will at one point or another realise they is something ...


3

There's an important ambiguity in the question that makes me somewhat unhappy with the accepted answer (so I'm providing an alternative here). Here's some clearer variations on the question: Will forcing students to use L2 at school from T1 cause student's knowledge of L1 to fall? Will forcing students to use L2 at school from T1 cause student's knowledge ...


3

In the specific case of students being forced to speak English in school, I would say no, students will still retain their full vocabulary and knowledge of their native language (L1). For one, it's only in school that English is mandated to be spoken. At home, in shops, and almost anywhere else, the L1 will be spoken (unless people are more comfortable ...


3

This is true. From Catija's answer and mainly her source in English Language Learners, we get a lot of information and thus, answers. She mentions first that one can have several first languages, or "mother tongues": Sometimes the term mother tongue or mother language is used for the language that a person learned as a child at home (usually from their ...


2

This really varies by reader. What is unnatural to someone varies from person to person. I don't see it being unnatural (English being my native language). Some might see it strange, others might think the sentence is beautifully written. Really, as long the sentence doesn't seem unnatural to you and seems to make sense grammatically and speaking-wise, it ...


2

Since it is difficult to find literature about this, I'll focus on a "case study". One of the most famous foreigners in China is 大山/Dàshān/Mark Henry Rowswell, a Canadian whose fluency in Chinese is so high he can even do stand-up comedy (相声/xiàngshēng). Dashan started studying Chinese at the age of 19, namely at the University of Toronto. There are a few ...


2

In 1989, Céline Dion was sent to École Berlitz to work on her English. Also, she has written quite a few albums in English, that must definitely have improved her accent!


2

There are several studies that seem to indicate it is indeed possible for adult learners to reach a level of pronunciation that is perceptually indistinguishable from native speakers. One could cite for instance "Authenticity of pronunciation in naturalistic second language acquisition: the case of very advanced late learners of Dutch as a Second ...


2

Personally, I've never met someone who learned German as an adult (or even teenager) without accent. Some level of accent was always audible. Regarding TV or radio hosts: there have been many popular TV hosts in Germany with foreign roots and VERY noticeable accents.


2

It appears to be possible. One example is the Turkish-born American political commentator Cenk Uygur. He says something about how he started learning English at the age of eight in a YouTube video that is otherwise not about language learning but about refugees and refugee agencies (emphasis added): I was not a refugee but my family came over as legal ...


1

The article Bleses, D., Vach, W., Slott, M., Wehberg, S., Thomsen, P., Madsen, T. O., & Basbøll, H. (2008). Early vocabulary development in Danish and other languages: A CDI-based comparison. Journal of child language, 35(3), 619-650. compares several studies that measured how fast children acquire languages by various measures. It argues that ...


1

This is a question that can only be answered anecdotally, unless a study has been published somewhere. In any case, yes it is possible. I have spent time in Sweden, Austria and Germany and usually get by without anyone asking where I'm from. Whether that means they don't believe I'm a foreigner or simply didn't ask has not been clear in every situation ...


1

Strictly speaking, there can be only one "first language". Even in the case of simultaneous bilingualism, i.e. the acquisition of two languages from birth, there is typically a dominant language and a less dominant language. Since you indicate that you have been exposed to Bahasa from birth, that you are fluent in Bahasa but not in Javanese and Malay (the ...


1

The idea that you should teach a language by "building up" from the alphabet to sentences is—to put it politely—strange. It is strange for two reasons: It does not match the language learning process of children learning their native language. It is not motivating for a child to learn in this way. What I recommend instead is a more direct method where you ...


1

It is reasonable to argue that Norwegian or Afrikaans are the easiest, and therefore the fastest, languages to learn for a native English speaker. Page F30 argues that (bokmål) Norwegian was the easiest, because: Many cognates (as with other Germanic languages) and is a Germanic language like English. Much easier grammar than other Germanic languages, ...


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