teaching foreign languages at an early age

Johanna Rubba jrubba at calpoly.edu
Mon Jan 17 17:42:42 UTC 2011


It is a bit mysterious why some languages come easier to some people  
than others. I spoke about French. I finally understood French  
grammar after reading Knud Lambrecht's book on information structure.  
It suddenly made sense. I will always have trouble with the  
pronunciation, though. I think it is a problem that you would find  
sensible -- French doesn't use reduced vowels, or many central  
vowels, while both English and Arabic do (at least the Arabic dialect  
I learned), and German to some extent. Spanish and French don't, and  
I find that I have to "stretch" to move among the cardinal vowel  
points. I could probably master this if I practiced a lot, but I  
haven't had or taken much opportunity to do so. I've never tried a  
tone language. I've always found them scary.

I did take a few classes on Standard Arabic, taught by some nuns (!)  
in Tunis. I couldn't stick with the class, because of its location  
and transportation/time issues, but we did get into some pretty  
complex grammar and I did find it oddly logical and familiar. It is  
pretty different from the dialect I was learning; I certainly never  
got into the grammar concepts with the dialect that I did in those  
few classes of Standard. Like what you experienced with Russian.

Anyway ... thanks for writing back.

Dr. Johanna Rubba, Ph. D.
Professor, Linguistics
Linguistics Minor Advisor
English Dept.
Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Ofc. tel. : 805-756-2184
Dept. tel.: 805-756-2596
Dept. fax: 805-756-6374
E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu
URL: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~jrubba

More information about the Funknet mailing list