The Mutualism of Language Acquisition and Brain Function
In view of the interdependence between countries on the world economy, as well as the rapid development of transportation and information technology, people interact and communicate more frequently in modern civilization.
Thus, the boundary between and among countries has become blurred; the global village phenomenon has formed. Under this trend, an international language will become a communication tool for people from different countries to interact.
English has become the world’s common language because of some historical factors. In the future, if people do not learn English, it would be difficult for them to adapt to the global village life.
With the era of the global village, there is an increasing prevalence in the interactions among countries in the areas of politics, economy, tourism, culture, etc. Especially in information technology and higher education, English is generally used as the communication medium.
This phenomenon highlights more the significance of learning English. By learning English, non-native English speakers not only can possess the ability to use another language, but they may also experience different Western cultures and broaden an understanding of cultural diversity. In addition, anyone with a good command of English would have the chance to engage in international affairs.
Learning English is a requirement to meet the needs of the global village life. The issue about the starting age for learning English for people of non-English-speaking countries deserves to be explored in depth.
From the perspective of education, the best strategy of learning is to learn the appropriate things at the optimum time. Hence, the age issue of learning a foreign language is noteworthy.
There are two situations in language learning: one is the acquisition of the mother tongue; the other is the learning of a second language or foreign language.
The age issue for learning a foreign language or second language is totally different from that for learning the mother tongue.
Apart from some very few cases, the age of learning the mother tongue is not a problem for children because the vast majority of the world’s children from birth live in a certain language environment (that is, the environment of mother-tongue).
However, there are a lot of controversies as to when to start learning a second language.
What is the optimal age for learning a second language?
When is the best time to learn a foreign language?
Is it the sooner the better?
Is there any difference between children and adults learning a second language?
These problems are not only the central issue of learning a second language, but are also the most controversial part.
Generally, it is assumed that the best strategy for learning a foreign language is the younger the better. People believe that children learn languages easily; on the other hand, adults require more time and effort but still get poor results. (Friederici, 2002)
How are such concepts formed?
Whether they are valid in scientific verification?
The author will make a series of writing to clarify myths about learning a second foreign language.
Penfield, W., & Roberts, L. (1959). Speech and Brain Mechanisms. Princeton University Press.
Lenneberg, E.H. (1967). Biological Foundations of Language. Wiley.
Friederici, A.D., Steinhauer, K. & Pfeifer, E. (2002). Brain signatures of artificial language processing: Evidence challenging the critical period hypothesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 99, 529–534.
Originally published at http://poeticmindfulness.wordpress.com on February 25, 2021.