What’s the best way to teach children a second language? New research produces surprising results

Article was originally published by The Conversation, reposted with permission

Authors
1. Karen Roehr-Brackin, Reader, Department of Language and Linguistics, University of Essex
2. Angela Tellier, Associate Fellow, University of Essex

People often assume that children learn new languages easily and without effort, regardless of the situation they find themselves in. But is it really true that children soak up language like sponges?

Research has shown that children are highly successful learners if they have a lot of exposure to a new language over a long time, such as in the case of child immigrants who are surrounded by the new language all day, every day. In such a scenario, children become much more proficient in the new language over the long term than adults.

But if the amount . . . → Read More: What’s the best way to teach children a second language? New research produces surprising results

Is the Second Language Acquisition discipline disintegrating?

Post written by Jan H. Hulstijn, based on an article in Language Teaching

The second language acquisition (SLA) field is characterized by a wide variety of issues and theoretical perspectives. Is this a bad thing? Are there signs of disintegration?

In applied linguistics in general, and in particular in the field of SLA, it is not uncommon to distinguish between quantitative and qualitative approaches or between cognitive and socio-cultural approaches. In my view, what is potentially more threatening to the field than a split between quantitative and qualitative subfields is the proportion of nonempirical theories. If an academic discipline is characterized by too many nonempirical ideas and too few empirical ideas, it runs the risk of losing credit in the scientific community at . . . → Read More: Is the Second Language Acquisition discipline disintegrating?

2010 Language Teaching Christopher Brumfit Award winner Dr Susy Macqueen discusses her award winning dissertation

When we become highly proficient in a language, we tend to use it in chunks or patterns. For a native language especially, we learn and become adept at manipulating masses of word patterns such as absolutely not, as it were, in light of the fact that, curry favour, I think that, scattered showers, it’s worth –ing, just a sec, etc. Language patterns like these make communication efficient – we don’t need to spend time piecing together the smallest bits of language. Rather, we work with larger bits that are easily accessed in the memories of both the user and the receiver. However, the pervasiveness of patterning makes it quite a challenge to sound ‘natural’ in second languages. Grammatical rules themselves are . . . → Read More: 2010 Language Teaching Christopher Brumfit Award winner Dr Susy Macqueen discusses her award winning dissertation

From Brain To Language To Accent

 

Ping Li, editor of Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, has been researching comparisons between the brains of native English speakers and Chinese speakers who are bilingual in English in the hopes of shedding more light on what differentiates and distinguishes someone who can easily pick up a new language from someone who struggles.

The research being carried out at Pennsylvania State University’s Brain, Language, and Computation Lab has been designed specifically to understand the relationships among language, brain, and culture. In particular, focusing on the dynamic changes that occur in the language learner and the dynamic interactions that occur in the competing language systems over the course of learning.

This research was recently picked up by CNN and makes for very informative and worthwhile reading.

 

 

Read the original article here . . . → Read More: From Brain To Language To Accent