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Poll: How old were you when you started learning your last working language?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Apr 23, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How old were you when you started learning your last working language?".

This poll was originally submitted by Lina Elhage Mavroudi

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I promise I will learn more languages! Apr 23, 2007

I voted under 20, although the question does not quite cover my case as I started learning SOME of the language under 20 but got more serious about it over 20... I have promised myself to learn Finnish and Japanese when I retire.

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Denise DeVries  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
0-20 Apr 23, 2007

It would be interesting to know the breakdown of ages from 0-20, since we are always told that the younger we are when we begin learning a language, the easier it is to learn.

In my case, I didn't start learning foreign languages until I was 15, and I am most fluent in the one I began learning at the age of 18.


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 07:02
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree; 0-20 needs to be broken down. Apr 23, 2007

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

I voted under 20, although the question does not quite cover my case as I started learning SOME of the language under 20 but got more serious about it over 20... I have promised myself to learn Finnish and Japanese when I retire.


Same situation as Tomás, but I fudged on the voting. I learned pronunciation rules and some Spanish phrases at 19, but didn't really take it seriously until I became engaged to a Spanish speaker. I figured that if I voted 0-20, it would be misleading, so I went with 21-25.

There's a hugely significant difference between starting to learn a language at 0, 10, 15, or 20 years of age. The gap between, say, 25 and 35 is not nearly as "big."

Denise DeVries wrote:

It would be interesting to know the breakdown of ages from 0-20, since we are always told that the younger we are when we begin learning a language, the easier it is to learn.


I fully agree!


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Lina Elhage-Mensching  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:02
English to French
+ ...
last working language Apr 23, 2007

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

I voted under 20, although the question does not quite cover my case as I started learning SOME of the language under 20 but got more serious about it over 20... I have promised myself to learn Finnish and Japanese when I retire.


Hi Tomas, you've got English, German and Portuguese to Spanish. Does your answer mean you've started learning [some of] the three foreign languages before the age of 20?


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Sabrina Ciserchia  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 08:02
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
When I was a child... Apr 23, 2007

I started learning English when I was 10, my mum's idea as she saw how I tried to read Stevie Wonder's lyrics while listening to him...

Thanks to that I could then enter university and get my translation degree, 12 years after starting to learn the language

[Edited at 2007-04-23 15:43]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:02
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
< 20 Apr 23, 2007

but by a curious quirk, I thought about "last language learned" (Arabic), and I was 26. It never became a working language pair for me.

Breakdown:

Spanish = 3 (trilingual extended family)
German = 10
French = 18 (I started working in this combination).


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 13:02
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
25-27, whe I fell in love! Apr 23, 2007

I was 25 when I decided to learn Danish and 27 when I started seriously. It's amazing what you can do when you fall in love!

I can still work with other languages, but my husband's language has become my second 'native language'. Living in the country has made an enormous difference. If I had stayed in the UK it would have been far more difficult, but here I can hear and read both languages every day.

Swedish and Norwegian in my thirties and forties, very self taught, with a little help from family and friends. I don't speak either, but can read them fluently. I do actually work in them occasionally!

I started French at about 7 and again at 11, Latin at 12 and German at 18.

I only ever translate into English, as I am not good enough at any of the others to translate the other way. Danish comes close, but the professional competition from real Danes is too tough!


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Deschant
Local time: 12:02
All under 20 Apr 23, 2007

I have learned 7 foreign language so far (although not all of them are my working languages), and I started learning them all before I was 20 (although the period in which I became really proficient in some of them was more the 20-25 period).

English: 8
French: 14
Latin: 15
Ancient Greek: 16
German and Modern Greek: 18
Italian: 19


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 12:02
5 Apr 23, 2007

I started learning Irish when I was 5.

French @ 12
German @ 13

Orla


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:02
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
19 Years: French Apr 23, 2007

I guess life has been a learning process for me...

I started learning (formal education) English and Hindi when I was 2-3 years old.

And of course, like everyone, I studied Sanskrit for 4 years from the time I was 10 to 14. Now I read books on my own. At least, I know the basics of Hindi quite well.

I used to be an avid reader at school (especially during Mathematics class) and somehow French intrigued me. Especially as there were quite a few words of French in most books. I didn't like the fact that there were some words that I couldn't understand. I was 19 when I enrolled for French Classes.

Punjabi is my mother tongue and I studied it with my mother She is my Punjabi teacher as it was never taught in my school but there is a wealth of literature in Punjabi that I wanted to read. OK, I started reading it on my own, looking at buses and guessing the destination... and then my cousins studied Punjabi at school and I used to read their books (and they used to tell me nice poems and stories etc.) but it was my mother who actually introduced me to this language and literature.

Tried studying Latin when I was 22 but gave up when someone tried to force me to study it (university teachers). Maybe I'll still study it one of these days... who knows...


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:02
Swedish to English
+ ...
32 Apr 23, 2007

I started learning Swedish at 22 (though I wouldn't say I made any effort to "learn" as such, I just soaked it up). I started working from Norwegian and then Danish aged 32 - I can't speak them really. Norwegian I can understand (I live on the border, so there are a lot of Norwegian speakers around here), but I have to speak English with Danes as I have huge problems understanding them (sorry Christine).

I never intended to start working with lannguages other than Swedish, but started because to customers of mine (individually but at around the same time) thought I should have a go. I should point out that I'm not at ease with very colloquial language unless in my last two.

The two languages I did at school - French and German - well, I'm still stuck at the level of a 12-year-old. I am going to go back to learning French again, but I'm sure it will never become a working language!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More specific infos Apr 23, 2007

Lina Elhage Mavroudi wrote:
Hi Tomas, you've got English, German and Portuguese to Spanish. Does your answer mean you've started learning [some of] the three foreign languages before the age of 20?


I must be more specific here: actually the last working language in which I have taken proper lessons was German, mostly after 20. However, I started learning it much earlier at home, as the son of a German woman married to my Spanish father. As for English, I started taking proper lessons before 20, but received more solid training when I was 22-23. For Portuguese, I have never had formal lessons. My knowledge is based on self-learning and interest in the language, and only work from Portuguese in areas I know well.

That's why I consider that the question does not fit a situation in which you have learned a bit of a language that is now a working language in my case... I reckon the question could have been something like "At what age did you reach a proficient level in your most recent working language?"


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:02
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Stevie Wonder does wonders! Apr 23, 2007

Sabrina Ciserchia wrote:

I started learning English when I was 10, my mum's idea as she saw how I tried to read Stevie Wonder's lyrics while listening to him...


I really felt the urge to learn more English listening to Stevie's "Journey through the secret life of plants" over and over again!

[Edited at 2007-04-23 17:45]


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