Wednesday, May 20, 2009

many benefits of being a polyglot

People who can speak two languages are more adept at learning a new foreign language than their monolingual counterparts, according to research conducted at Northwestern University. And their bilingual advantage persists even when the new language they study is completely different from the languages they already know.

They found that the bilingual participants -- whether English-Mandarin or English-Spanish speakers – mastered nearly twice the number of words as the monolinguals.

And they believe the bilingual advantage is likely to generalize beyond word learning to other kinds of language learning, including learning new words in one's own language and a very basic ability to maintain verbal information.

"After learning another language, individuals can transfer language learning strategies they've acquired to subsequent language learning and become better language learners in general," said Northwestern School of Communication's Marian.


D: IMHO (in my humble opinion), the best way to learn a second language is prior to pubescence. If the parents do not speak two or more languages at home, that means learning a new language in primary school.

And IMHO, the best way to do that is to have a first language that is easy to learn.

I refer back to my earliest blog entries.
Finnish has an alphabet with the sound of the letter in the letter name.
It has highly regular spelling, to the point where spelling bees are a pointless concept.
Many Finns that learn Finnish at a rapid pace go on to learn Swedish.
From Swedish, it easy to learn English.

Alternatively, a very simple SECOND language after a not-simple first one.
One should try to teach language in primary school, while the children still have brains that exhibit much plasticity.
I was pretty much hopeless at French, having already hit puberty in Grade 7.
I was also given almost no pointers on how to study efficiently to learn lists of vocabulary. So I never learned it. I took both Grade 13 French OACs, nearly failed both, and still cannot speak French to save my life.
What a collossal waste of my time.

I have my literacy tutor certification now.

On some weekends, I read the Globe and Mail while staying at a friend's place to work for him. His grade 1 daughter likes to read along. I suspect the Globe is written at about a grade 10 level. This week's most incomprehensible word was "league". Lee-goo-eh?
She is a high end reader, but I feel sorry for a poor student, or one that is a good student but has learning disabilies.

The more we stick to English-Chinese-Russian as the first childhood language, the more a very slick and trim aux-lang makes sense as a secon language.
Every addiotional year required to learn these demanding natural languages is another year towards high school, when it is essentially too late to efficiently teach a second language.

For that matter, in high school or later an aux-lang makes even more sense, for all the reasons listed above.

By aux-lang, assume I mean a language as devoid of advanced nat-lang features as possible.
For example, agreement and many infixes, as well as basic vocabulary demands.
(Insert Espo rant here.)


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