March 14, 2012

"Though languages are at their base social connectors, their study, for the most acquisitive, can be isolating."

Read about 16-year old Timothy Doner, who taught himself a dozen languages and has now discovered the power of connecting with like-minded people through YouTube. There's a whole genre of polyglot videos.

So how does one learn a dozen languages? Is it an innate ability? Is it a skill one learns through practice, like playing an instrument?
The answer, neurolinguists are now discovering, is a bit of both, said Loraine Obler, a linguist and a professor at the City University of New York who has studied bilingualism’s effect on the brain. “There are people whose brains are set up to do language learning,” she said, “the same way some people are more talented at drawing.” Also, she added, “The brain’s ability to absorb increases as we know more languages. Having a second language at a young age helps you learn a third, even if they’re unrelated.”
One more reason to start learning a second language early in life.

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