Break out of the mould. Dare to grasp the most beautiful thing in life: language. English is free - anyone may possess it. He who acquires it at school, if the teacher was good, will have received the most valuable gift of all; more valuable than any other gift he is likely to receive for the rest of his life.
Although language is the most complex subject we will ever learn in our lives, we are perfectly equipped to acquire language from an early age; in fact we have the capacity to acquire several languages of almost equal fluency as our mother tongue. There have been many studies on bi- or multilingualism, but one thing is certain: starting off life (for the first 10-12 years) with just one language is by far the better option.
Just how complex is language, compared to, say, mathematics? We cannot be certain (as yet) but if the volume of connections in the brain invested in language is an indicator, it must be in the order of many, many times more complex. On the other hand, this may be a false indicator as we probably allocate about as much space in our brains to facial recognition: body language is as important to us as verbal and vocal language.
Now answer these questions about the text:
1. What is the best age to start learning a second or third language?
2. What does learning a second language require?
3. What could possibly motivate a non-English-speaking teenager to want to learn another language?
4. What have most English native speakers been deprived of, since their language is used to communicate globally?
5. What famous great writers became champions of English literature, though they were not native speakers?
6. What does Mr De Jong suggest to his fellow teachers?
7. Mr De Jong compares learning a foreign language to studying mathematics. What's more difficult to you?
8. Write a short answer to Mr De Jong's article. Do you agree with him? Are there any statements you disagree with?