Quote Originally Posted by Debbie V View Post
I'm coming at this from a language teaching perspective. I have a Master's in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages, but I haven't been in a classroom for quite some time. This is what I was taught way back when and fits my experience.

It takes 1-3 years to learn a language to social proficiency. That's a broad range. It's broad because there are a number of factors: how much does the person need/want to learn, how great is their exposure, how proficient are they with their native language (for example, if you have a learning disability, you will struggle in the same way in a new language), how outgoing are they. Age is not relevant. (It impacts learning style, but not ability or the timeline.)

Note that the range covers until social proficiency, not what is necessary to just get by. I had two students who both spoke no English at the start of one year. One absolutely had no desire to be there or learn anything. He was angry at having moved from another local town. Anything he learned, he learned despite himself. The other was a happy little sponge. He exited the program at the end of the school year. This was kindergarten, so academic proficiency was social proficiency--plus a little. (They came to me from two different classrooms, where the second student was the only one in my class, meaning he may not have had native Spanish speakers in his regular class and may have had more reason to learn English.)
This is extremely helpful for me also.

How does trauma complicate the learning process? Obviously this would be a factor for neandermagnon's exile though it may be subsumed through the sheer necessities of survival.

I'm researching about immigrants in late 19th-century NYC with a political exile/war refugee character so there's a whole lot she's dealing with besides language, plus there's a small ethnic enclave where she can meet her basic needs. It's almost the opposite problem of not having enough immersion when you have a community and speak what was the most common second language of the period - probably a bit like the Spanish-speaking kids you taught. Thoughts? Feel free to PM me as I don't want to hijack this thread.