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1′ People often ask: “How long will it take me to become proficient in language X?” This question is impossible to answer because a lot depends on a person’s language learning ability, motivation, learning environment, intensity of instruction, and prior experience in learning foreign languages. It also depends on the degree to which the target language is similar to or different from the learner’s first language or languages that the learner has learned in the past. Last, but not least, … Full article

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1′ People often ask: “How long will it take me to become proficient in language X?” This question is impossible to answer because a lot depends on a person’s language learning ability, motivation, learning environment, intensity of instruction, and prior experience in learning foreign languages. It also depends on the degree to which the target language is similar to or different from the learner’s first language or languages that the learner has learned in the past. Last, but not least, … Full article

A writing system, also referred to as script or orthography, is a convention for representing the units of a spoken language by making marks on rocks, leaves, clay, bark, metal, or paper. The study of writing systems, to a large extent, consists of establishing correspondences between these marks, or symbols, and units of the spoken language such as individual sounds, syllables, morphemes (smallest units of meaning), or words. Whereas speech is ephemeral, writing leaves a permanent record of a …

It may be surprising but it is very difficult question to answer. First of all, there are languages in some parts of the world that have not yet been studied such as in Papua New Guinea and the Amazon. Secondly, there are no clear-cut criteria for deciding what constitutes a separate language and what constitutes a dialect of a language because purely linguistic considerations can often compete with issues of statehood, culture, writing systems, political and economic power. For …

The original official languages of the UN were English, Chinese, French, and Russian, the languages of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The choice was largely political. English was widely used as an international language, as it was the dominant language of the United States, a superpower. Chinese was the language of a major power as well as the language with the greatest number of speakers. Russian was the language of one of the major powers even though it was not widely spoken outside of the Soviet …

The overall picture of foreign language instruction at the elementary and secondary levels in 2008 showed few, if any, improvements over the past two decades. There is serious concern about the limited number of long-sequence K-12 language programs needed to achieve proficiency in a foreign language. There is also a wide gap between the haves and the have-nots. A signifiant number of elementary and middle school students, especially in rural and low socio-economic schools, do not have access to …