Children more easily learn language

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A note for Lesson no. 3, "Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 55‌‌ is:

Scientists think this sort of pruning may be one reason that children have an easier time learning languages than adults do.

The "ease" of learning can be characterized in different ways:

  • how fast people learn (speed)
  • how much people learn (quantity)
  • how much detail is learned (is the learning gist-like or does it contain a lot of details)
  • how quickly a brain can bring material to mind (processing speed)

and so on. Children are able to learn and use the words of a second language more proficiently when compared to adults, but they learn more slowly.[1]


  1. Johnson, Jacqueline S., and Elissa L. Newport. 1989. "Critical Period Effects in Second Language Learning: The Influence of Maturational State on the Acquisition of English as a Second Language." Cognitive Psychology 21 (1): 60–99.