Adventures in Language

Science Behind Language Learning | 4 Key Differences Between First and Second Language Learning

December 01, 2021 Mango Languages
Adventures in Language
Science Behind Language Learning | 4 Key Differences Between First and Second Language Learning
Show Notes

Some people quickly become fluent in their second languages, while others struggle to get past even basic conversation. Yet everyone seems to learn their first language with ease. In this podcast, your guide Kaitlyn Tagarelli (Linguist, PhD) dives into the differences between first and second language learning. In particular, 4 key factors that help explain why learning outcomes are so much more variable in second language learning.

To download all the available language learning content we mentioned in this podcast, or if you’d like the blog article that accompanies this episode, click here:

Check out our video on The 9 Essential Terms of Second Language Acquisition, full of vocabulary and details about SLA:

We also invite you to check out our website at: and follow us on social media @MangoLanguages. And remember – language is an adventure. Enjoy the ride!

Wondering what languages were used in today’s episode?
Malayalam | ഹലോ (hahlO) and പിന്നെ കാണാം (PINnay kaaNAAM) mean “hello” and “goodbye”
Icelandic | Sæll (Sightl) and Vertu blessaður (Vair tuh blessothur) mean “hello” and “goodbye”
Interested in learning Malayalam, Icelandic, or one of the other 70+ languages that the Mango app offers? Click here to start learning!

Want to know more about the research consulted for this episode?
Gardner, R. C., & Lambert, W. E. (1972). Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers. 
Hartshorne, J. K., Tenenbaum, J. B., & Pinker, S. (2018). A critical period for second language acquisition: Evidence from 2/3 million English speakers. Cognition, 177, 263-277.
Johnson, J. S., & Newport, E. L. (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.
Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon. (Updated online version on Dr. Krashen’s website.)
Segalowitz, N., Freed, B., Collentine, J., Lafford, B., Lazar, N., & Díaz-Campos, M. (2004). A Comparison of Spanish Second Language Acquisition in Two Different Learning Contexts: Study Abroad and the Domestic Classroom. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10(1), 1-18.
Webb, S. & Peters, E. (2020). Watching foreign-language TV during the coronavirus pandemic can help you learn a new language. The Conversation.

Kaitlyn Tagarelli (PhD, Georgetown University) is a Linguist and the Head of Research at Mango Languages. She holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University, specializing in how the mind and brain learn languages. Aside from geeking out about all things neuroscience and linguistics, she loves hanging out with her family at their Connecticut home, trying to convince them to speak French with her.

#languagelearning #multilingualism #SLA