You Too Could Be Multilingual – It’s Just About Unlocking The Skills Inside
Christopher Timothy McGuirk , 6 Apr 17
       

shutterstock

Think back to when you first started learning a foreign language. For many readers it was probably French, German or Spanish at school.

I was one of those considered lucky enough to be “good at languages” and I studied all three. Like me though, I imagine you can remember friends who froze at the thought of speaking a second language in class.

The psychologist Albert Bandura called this “social persuasion” – I just call it fear of being shown up in front of your mates. Teachers often define this in terms of “having (or not having) a gift” – student A is good at languages but student B just isn’t.

But there is another argument: that actually language learning has nothing to do with natural aptitude, and much more to do with other factors – such as your learning environment and exposure to language.

Noam Chomsky introduced a controversial idea about learning languages in the 1960s – known as the “language acquisition device”. He suggested that children have an inbuilt universal grammar that enables them to learn any language. In short, learning a first language is easy because you are programmed from birth to be able to do it.

But this concept is a bone of contention among many researchers, because there are logical reasons to disagree with Chomsky’s ideas as he presented them.

Linguistic toolkit

The linguist Yukio Otsu for example, made the valid point that the “language acquisition device” did not seem adaptable to different dialects and accents.

In other words “the device” would help you learn a standard form of English, but it might not help you learn something like Geordie or Bristolian ways of speaking from other parts of Britain.

Other research has questioned why some people learn languages slower than others. Because if Chomsky’s device existed, then it should – theoretically – automatically activate at the same rate for every learner.

Sign in to view full article

       
Organ Harvesting in China: Foreigners ‘Are 1 in 5’ Transplant Recipients
Prisoners of conscience are murdered on demand for their organs in China to supply a state-run transplant industry where one ...
James Burke
Mon, 20 Feb 17
Facebook’s New Anti-Fake News Strategy Is Not Going To Work – But Something Else Might
Over the past year, the social media company has been scrutinized for influencing the US presidential election by spreading fake ...
Paul Ralph
Mon, 1 May 17
Holocaust of the 21st Century
In all other countries, recipients wait for organs. But in China, organs wait for recipients. This is only possible if ...
Richard A. Lyons
Mon, 2 Jan 17
The Price of Connection: ‘Surveillance Capitalism’
Imagine, if you can, a period long before today’s internet-based connectivity. Imagine that, in that distant time, the populations of ...
Nick Couldry
Mon, 27 Feb 17
Why Do We Need to Eat so Many Vegetables and What Does a Serve Actually Look Like?
Most adults would know they’re meant to eat two or more serves of fruit and five or more serves of ...
Genevieve James-Martin, Gemma Williams, Malcolm Riley
Mon, 8 May 17
An Epoch Times Survey
An Epoch Times Survey
Advertise with Us
BUCHERER
Sports Elements
Read about Forced Organ Harvesting