After 2000 hours of studying English neither the average Japanese nor the average Chinese person have sufficient knowledge of the language to allow them to use it in practice, and they still have difficulties with English pronunciation. Experience shows that an average of 250 hours of education is enough for Asian youths to speak Esperanto much better, without the same difficulties of pronunciation.
Linguistic research reveals the importance of the age factor in language acquisition. Emigrants who arrived in the USA between the ages of three and seven learned English as well as children born in the US. Emigrants who arrived when they were between eight and fifteen had weaker language skills the later they had arrived. The weakest language skills were found among those who had immigrated to the USA after turning fifteen.
It is not enough to hear a language if one is to learn it. Deaf parents were earlier encouraged to allow their children to watch a lot of television, but this proved to have no impact on the children’s’ language development.
Every verb in modern Spanish can have about fifty different forms. French is if possible even more difficult. Take French verb forms. Larousse de la conjugaison contains more than ten thousand verb forms distributed across 115 conjugations.
For someone who wants to get anything done in the EU parliament or in the General Assembly of the UN, communicating through an interpreter is not enough. It is necessary to be able to speak convincingly, argue, discuss and raise emotions. The French or English learnt in school alone cannot achieve this; further years of studying or practicing English or French are necessary. How many of our politicians have had the time to do this during their careers?
Language and Economics
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© Hans Malv, 2004