As you may or may not have been able to tell, there has been a small gap in my language journal entries. I’ll tell you why.
I had to write a 12-15 page paper.
I know, right? Anyways, my time has thus been spent staying up late writing, researching, and formulating a somewhat intelligent opinion regarding The Difficulty in Learning New Languages: Dissecting the French Language and The Need For Language Diversity, which was my chosen topic.
Thus, through all of my work put into this paper, it is only fair that I share a few little snip-its into what I wrote about.
Lars-Gunnar Andersson, author of Myth Chapter Seven, “Some Languages are Harder Than Others” of Language Myths, edited by Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill, claims “many people speak of languages as easy or difficult, meaning that it is easy or difficult to learn these languages. However, linguists would say there is no single scale from easy to difficult, and degree of difficulty can be discussed on many levels (50).” Through looking at the components of our linguistic knowledge, and in the assumption that our knowledge of a language consists of the following three parts: grammar, vocabulary and rules of usage, it can be determined that some languages are in fact harder than others but it is difficult to determine to what extent that myth may be inaccurate (51, 57). Thus, it can be supported throughout, that in a combined effort the overall difficulty in learning new languages varies depending on which language is being learned, but also upon external factors in turn. Despite varying difficulty, the people’s overall need for a multilingual society is prominent.
With increased question into what makes languages so increasingly difficult to learn and why some are harder than others, specifically utilizing French as an example, insight was shared in a survey provided by data extracted from opinion polls on attitudes toward the language policy in the American public over the last decade. The article, “Language Votes: Attitudes toward Foreign Language Policies,” compiled information by William P. Rivers, John P. Robinson, Paul G. Harwood, and Richard D. Brecht, was published in the Foreign Language Annuals in the Fall of 2013.
The article listed results starting in the year 2000, stating 64% of respondents believed that learning a foreign language was as valuable as learning math and science in school. Slightly more respondents (68%) agreed with the same statement in the 2008 survey. Thus, the results concluded that respondents’ attitudes about the value of foreign language learning were initially strongly positive and became slightly more positive during the period under consideration. In continuation, fewer than 25% of respondents agreed that bilingual education should be eliminated.
Surprisingly enough as the questions varied across all aspects of language, 78% of individuals felt English should be the official language of the United States of America in the year 2000, while in the year 2008 the number dropped 6%. In the same 2000 study, 76% of individuals felt English united Americans, while 67% agreed with the same statement in the year 2008. It can since be concluded in the study that results from these two questions suggest slight increases in the public’s acceptance of languages other than English. The authors also concluded, “during the eight years under consideration (2000-2008), survey respondents showed relatively consistent and strong support for public policies that favored foreign language education, bilingual education, and tolerance for other languages.”
In conclusion, with the realistic difficulties one may come across in learning new languages, the need for language diversity among our society is strongly both needed and wanted. With insight given into examples of syntax structure necessary to become fluent in a foreign language, primarily French as an example, it can be considered that it is not only the language itself that makes it difficult to excel in the learning of new languages, but the individual learning the language as well.
Oy, I deserve some cake.