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Language Learning – Comments on Outdated Approaches

Language Learning – Comments on Outdated Approaches

This is an interesting comment I found in the newsletter from Barbara Oakley. It is worth a discussion with teachers of second languages. At our school, we offer French, Spanish, and German. Each year we have students who students struggle to learn a second language. Often because they easily give up and stop spending time on it. Everyone knows that it is the effort you put in her….. In Norway you might be exempt from language learning in high school, but only if it is proved that the student does not have the ability to learn a second language. Mostly this would apply to students with dyslexia. It is interesting to read about the difference between language acquisition for kids and adults and that neuroscientific evidence is increasingly revealing that adults have weaker procedural systems. It is important information when teaching somewhat reluctant 17-year-olds. I also suggest you watch the video below, but be sure to increase the playback speed 1.75. And remember you can always tell your students that they do not want to end up like the American joke:

“What do you call a person who speaks two languages?

“A bilingual.

“What do you call a person who speaks one language?

“An American.” 

Read the newsletter here: 

“We were asked to comment on this video about language learning by prominent linguist Stephen Krashen, because the approaches that Krashen recommends are still prominent in language learning.  What Krashen says is accurate in many ways, (for example, the importance of comprehensible input and a low anxiety environment). But Krashen clearly knows virtually nothing of neuroscience—and to give him credit, at the time Krashen made the video, neuroscience had nothing like the insight it provides today.

For example, Krashen implies that understanding is all you need to learn a language. That’s perhaps appropriate to say for kids, but not adults (note that all his examples involved children).

The reality is, as we mentioned above in relation to Dr. Dippel’s book, the habitual “rote” procedural system in humans—so important in language acquisition—changes between infancy and adulthood. Neuroscientific evidence is increasingly revealing that adults have weaker procedural systems, so drill for adults can help facilitate the development of the procedural, intuitive sets of neural links that are so important for adults as well as children when it comes to language learning.  This fading procedural learning system appears to be related to why infants and toddlers are able to pick up languages with ease—where they cannot do it so easily at age 10, and not nearly as easily at age 20. A fascinating recent book related to this topic that we are in the process of reading, (review to come), is The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century, edited by Arthur Reber and Rhianon Allen. Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners! Barbara Oakley

The book mentioned in the article “The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century”  Arthur S. Reber (ed.), Rhianon Allen (ed.) 

Title: The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century

Editor: Arthur S. Reber and Rhianon Allen

Overview: “The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century” is a comprehensive book that delves into the fascinating field of the cognitive unconscious. Edited by Arthur S. Reber and Rhianon Allen, this collection of essays offers readers a broad overview of the exploration and understanding of the cognitive unconscious over the past fifty years. The book brings together contributions from leading experts in the fields of neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, making it an invaluable resource for researchers, scholars, and students interested in the complex workings of the human mind.

Topic: The cognitive unconscious refers to the processing of various mental functions, such as perception, memory, learning, thought, and language, without conscious awareness. It explores the idea that our minds engage in complex information processing that occurs below the threshold of our conscious awareness. The cognitive unconscious has been a topic of great interest and debate among scientists and scholars from different disciplines.

Key Features:

  1. Comprehensive Overview: “The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century” presents a comprehensive overview of the progress made in the study of the cognitive unconscious. It covers various theoretical frameworks, empirical research, and experimental findings related to this field.
  2. Interdisciplinary Perspectives: The book brings together experts from diverse fields such as neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. Each chapter offers unique insights and approaches to understanding the cognitive unconscious, highlighting the multidisciplinary nature of this topic.
  3. Historical Context: The book traces the evolution of the study of the cognitive unconscious over the past fifty years. It provides a historical context for the development of theories and research methodologies, allowing readers to understand the progression of ideas and the impact they have had on the field.
  4. Essays from Prominent Scholars: The book features contributions from prominent scholars who have made significant contributions to the field of cognitive science. Their essays provide valuable perspectives, theories, and empirical evidence, enriching the reader’s understanding of the cognitive unconscious.
  5. Current Debates: As the cognitive unconscious continues to be an area of active research and debate, the book explores the current state of knowledge, highlighting unresolved questions, controversies, and emerging trends in the field. This makes it a valuable resource for staying up-to-date with the latest developments in this area.

By examining the cognitive unconscious, researchers hope to gain insights into the underlying mechanisms of human cognition, expand our understanding of how the mind operates, and potentially develop new therapeutic approaches for various mental and neurological disorders.

“The Cognitive Unconscious: The First Half Century” serves as a significant contribution to the existing literature and provides readers with a comprehensive and thought-provoking exploration of this intriguing field.

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