Poetic Mindfulness
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Poetic Mindfulness

Bilingual learning

Bilingual learning

(1) The language interference:

For children who are raised in a bilingual environment from infancy, the language interference phenomenon is rare. And for the bilingual adults, their switching of language will follow the respective language rule. Such school of thought maintains that the language learning mechanism is determined by the phonological aspect. However, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of language interference in children who learn the second language before puberty (Mehler, Dommegues, Fraucenfelder & Sequi, 1981; Joshi, 1985).

(2) The comparison of languages:

An example is between French and English. The first syllable of the word is the most identifiable sound for French, but it is the reverse situation for English. So the French use the division of syllable to form the meaning, but this is not the case for the English-speaking people (Cutler, Mchler, Norris & Segui, 1983).

(3) The bilingual cortical representation:

In 1997, Kim and other neuroscientists used PET and fMRI to investigate how the language learning regions differ. They found that for late learners (subjects who started learning the second language at puberty), the activated sites of the mother tongue and the second language in the Broca’s area had a distance of 4.5mm~9.0mm. And for early learners (subjects who started learning the second language from infancy), the two brain regions responding to mother tongue and the second language overlapped. However, in the Wernicke’s area, the region responding to the mother tongue and the region responding to the second language were the same for both early and late learners

(4) The lateralization:

(a) Lenneberg believed that the brain undergoes lateralization starting from the age of two. Prior to the completion of the lateralization, people are using the whole brain to learn language. Around puberty, lateralization of the brain will be completed. Since then, language learning is mainly taken care of by the left side of the brain. The effectiveness of language learning after lateralization of the human brain is not as good as during the whole-brain learning period. Therefore, language learning is best before completion of brain lateralization.

(b) Children who have brain injury, no matter which area is injured, show slower development and less language competence. This demonstrates that brain injury affects development as a whole. The most important finding of Stile’s research is that infants with injured right brain have problem in the semantics. This is different in the case of the adults (Stiles & Thal, 1993).


Mehler, J., Dommergues, J., Frauenfelder, U., & Sequi, J. (1981). The syllable’s role in speech segmentation. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 20, 298–305.

Joshi, A.K. (1985), Tree adjoining grammars: How much context-sensitivity is required to provide reasonable structural descriptions? In: Dowty, D. & Karttunen, L. & Zwicky, A. (eds.), Natural Language Parsing — Psychological, Computational and Theoretical Perspectives. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press.

\Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D. & Segui, J. (1983) A language specific comprehension strategy. Nature, 304, 159–160.

Stiles, J. & Thal, D. (1993). Linguistic and spatial cognitive development following early focal brain injury: Patterns of deficit and recovery. In Johnson, M.H. (ed.), Brain development and cognition: A reader. Oxford: Blackwell.

Originally published at http://poeticmindfulness.wordpress.com on August 25, 2020.



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