Languages are not easier to learn as a kid

Most people believe that it's much easier to learn a language when you're a child. I claim this is a myth and I will explain why people think it.

The biggest factor is time spent per day. Pre-fluent children have basically nothing to do with any of their time except "play" with the fluent speakers aronud them, and so they are surrounded by fluent speech for almost every minute of every day. Adults, on the other hand, often try to "learn a language" in a classroom for an hour a day. This has got to be a difference of 10 times just looking at the amount of time spent! And yet, do adults often take more than a decade of active study to reach fluency? Do they ever take more than two decades?

Similarly, most adults trying to learn languages are not spending most of their study time talking with natives. They spend a lot of it reading textbooks or web pages, listening to recordings or perhaps talking with other learners. None of these are as efficient a way to learn as talking with natives.

I believe adults can actually learn languages *much faster* than children if they learn them in a comparable environment. The idea that it's harder as an adult is purely a result of a fallacious comparison that doesn't isolate the factor it compares.

I am a living demonstration. I know a 3-year-old who's pretty close to fluent in English, and I've acquired a comparable level of fluency in Spanish after about 3 years of active study. The difference? Throughout those "active" years (I'm discounting the long periods of time where I completely dropped the study), I'd estimate that I've studied for an average of *20 minutes a day*. And almost none of that time was talking with native speakers. The vast majority of it was reading and listening to recordings.

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