We often tend to see children as the best and fastest language learners, and attribute their success to a brain plasticity and flexibility that we adults no longer possess. One might quibble with the definition of “brain plasticity”, but a key factor in the learning process is often omitted: the way they acquire a foreign language is different from ours.
Children hear whole sentences. They don’t start with syllables. They simply hear chunks of a language and then identify the single components by themselves. As adults, we tend to think that we can figure out the structure of a language by analysing every single aspect of it, and we lose sight of the general, broader picture. As adults, we still have the capacity to hear, but we have partially lost our capacity to listen. A Polyglot Dream