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Are some languages really more difficult to learn?

We’ve all heard students say that they have chosen specific languages to study based on how easy they are to learn. In fact, the Washington Post has a quiz called “Which foreign language should you learn?” (found here: http://bit.ly/whichlang). If you choose responses that indicate you don’t want to put too much time and effort into language learning, you get told you should study Spanish. Changing your responses to say that you want to work harder gets you Arabic. A quiz such as the one in the Washington Post may seem like harmless fun, but pervasive ideas about language learning and teaching may have negative consequences for language teaching and learning.
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