Have you ever wondered how some people can learn to speak multiple languages when you are struggling to get through Spanish 1001? Well, while learning a new language isn't impossible for adults, the younger you are the more successful you are likely to be in learning one, two, or three other languages. One very interesting possible reason is the Experience-Expectant quality of language development. It is said that when we are born, we have the ability to identify (or at least differentiate between) all speech sounds that occur across cultures and languages. This ability is pruned away as we are exposed to the native language of the culture we are born into - for example, a French child will most likely lose the ability to distinguish between all sounds of Kikongo, the Bantu language spoken in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For this reason, it can be more difficult, as we age, to learn another language because we cannot always duplicate the tonal singularities of another language.
This is not meant to dissuade you from learning a second language, however! Learning another language is not only beneficial professionally (it looks good on your résumé, and can help you reach higher levels in your professional workplace), and personally (traveling is more fun when you speak the language!), it also improves your cognitive language abilities. After eight years of Spanish, one year of Latin, and six years of French language courses (including studying abroad in France), I can confidently say that my metalinguistic insight - or my awareness of how language is structured and used - has improved significantly. Because a new language requires you to learn a new range of vocabulary, grammatical, and syntactic rules, your mind becomes more flexible and your ability to learn other difficult concepts improves.
So, if that Spanish class is giving you trouble, know that you might not reach a level of complete fluency but that it will ultimately be beneficial for your continued cognitive development!
PS Can you identify each language represented in the title of this blog?