I was born in Spain to Spanish-speaking parents, who in their infinite wisdom brought me up speaking English. I’ve always resented missing the opportunity to be brought up bilingual — adults seem to have such a tough time learning languages, compared to children. But why is that?
YouTuber Tom Scott explores the fascinating — and often bizarre — ways that our brains think about language in the video above. As he points out, humans are all born with the potential to speak any language, including mastering seemingly-impossible feats of listening and pronunciation. Children are consistently capable of mastering the language they grow up around, with seemingly little effort.
But as Scott points out, it’s not all lost if you’re an adult: not only are adults better at learning vocabulary, but they also have to handle far more than just learning to speak. After all, no-one wants to bottle-feed a 38-year-old plugging away at Rosetta Stone.