Post by Pervy Stone Cold on Dec 29, 2011 18:59:50 GMT -5
Well my dad who is foreign (French) came to America when he was 10 or 11. It depends on your age and how immersed you are in being around people who speak English. He learned in about one year because of TV and basically everyone speaking (he didn't live where others spoke French) English around him.
Immersion is important too. If you, say, speak Spanish but live in America in neighborhoods where people predominantly speak Spanish it does not come as quickly.
Wow, never thought I would get summoned by someone outside of my usual dwelling threads.
Anyway, it is hard to tell: In Grade 4 (elementary school), we started learning English a bit playfully without going too much into grammar. Then, it began to be taught systematically in Grade 5 (Junior High) from which it went until senior high school.
What helped me was that I developed an interest into foreign languages (through an anime series named "Captain Future") which in turn led me to watch movies and series in their respective original language (back when that was a chore since DVDs were not out yet and the Internet was not fully developed).
Another thing that helped was something that a university professor of mine said in a consultation with me that I have a "parrot brain", meaning I can easily memorize stuff, thus most of everything I read somewhere gets soaked up like a sponge.
Thinking about it, I seem to have worked up a working knowledge in grade 11 (senior high, age 17-18) at the latest since I was told I had a very strict English teacher there where only people who took a trip abroad for a year at least got good grades. I had been two weeks in England and three weeks in the US before that and wrote Bs/A-s in his exams. So that's that.
One important thing to note is that I think your knowledge of a language and its upgrade/downgrade depends on how much you have to do with that language on a day-to-day basis. With English, I visit English-language websites daily and watch media (books, movies, TV) in their original language (which happens to be English most of the time) so I have daily contact with it. The same mostly with Japanese hearing Japanese news broadcast and watching anime in Japanese. But as for my French, it is at a low level now because I never come into contact with anything French daily.
How much you use it from day-to-day is an important factor IMHO in if you can keep a working knowledge of a foreign tongue.