Science Grows on Acquiring New Language



This is a new article out from Education Week - click here for the whole article.

Some excerpts:
“Babies start out as citizens of the world; they can discriminate the sounds of any language,” Ms. Kuhl said.
"For example, when babies born to native-English-speaking parents played three times a week during that window with a native-Mandarin-speaking tutor, at 12 months, they had progressed in their ability to recognize both English and Mandarin sounds, rather than starting to retrench in the non-native language. By contrast, children exposed only to audio or video recordings of native speakers showed no change in their language trajectory."

“Human brains are wired to learn best in social interactions, whether that learning is about language or problem-solving or emotion.”

“Just around the time when most students in this country, if they study a language, are starting that process, they’re becoming less likely to be able to make those native-like sounds in another language

"Other studies also suggest that learning multiple languages from early childhood on may provide broader academic benefits, too. For example, at the science-oriented Ultimate Block Party held in New York City this month, children of different backgrounds played games in which they were required to sort toys either by shape or color, based on a rule indicated by changing flashcards. A child sorting blue and yellow ducks and trucks by shape, say, might suddenly have to switch to sorting them by color. The field games exemplified research findings that bilingual children have greater cognitive flexibility than monolingual children. That is, they can adapt better than monolingual children to changes in rules—What criteria do I use to sort?—and close out mental distractions—It doesn’t matter that some blue items are ducks and some are trucks."

“A bilingualist,” Ms. Kroll said, “is a mental juggler.”