This post is about thoughts on topic of Second Language Acquisition. Current status of research and future developments. It is written in a popular science manner and has my conjectures that may or may not be backed by research in the field.
Not a programming language
Second language Acquisition in this post relates to natural human languages as opposed to programming computer languages.
Have you ever tried to learn a second language and found it frustrating because of investment of lots of time, effort and even money? We all know that learning second language while being an adult takes time and effort. But despite of all investment it seems we`ll never be able to achieve the fluency and intuition of native speakers. The big question is ‘why is that?‘
Wouldn`t it be nice to acquire second language effortlessly and gain a native speakers` level of language control.
But this dream cannot be achieved in the near future due to biological constraints that we have in our brains and it has nothing to do with the amount of time invested in the second language learning.
Some linguistic background
We know from research that children that grow in a multilingual environment can acquire a number of languages in a level of native speakers effortlessly until certain age. After this threshold age acquisition turns from effortless to conscious practice and requires lots of time and effort. The question you may ask is what happens at this threshold age?
The answer is complicated. So far there is no clear answer. However it is known form Noam Chomsky`s research from past century that there must be some biological constraint in the human brains that is underlying this transition form unconscious language learning to a conscious one. And it has to do with brain plasticity and other unknown factors.
What other researches found
There is an interesting hypotheses by linguist Stephen Krashen known as Input hypotheses that conjectures that only written and spoken inputs are sufficient for effective second language learning in adulthood.