Get working on those connections between the anterior cingulate cortex and the posterior thingy

Very interesting article here theorizing why some people appear to be better at learning languages than others:

Plus an excuse to go to Montreal…


Great share, interesting article.

I strongly suspect that what we’re seeing here is the known phenomenon of wider early exposure to language predicting brain growth and academic achievement followed through to the point where it impacts on L2 acquisition.

Which I suspect means that this isn’t going to be a key driver in L2 acquisition work…

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Thanks for sharing this. A really interesting read and thought provoking about preferred learning styles.


@aran, does this say that learning more than one language early makes it easier later? How early does it have to be? I learned German in the POW camp in 1945. I know that because my Dad got back after VE Day and before VJ Day, so it can’t have been 1944. I was 3 going on 4. I do not think I am good at languages, accents, yes, but not languages. Could it be that, not only do you need to learn a second language fairly young, but you need to carry on using both thereafter! We left the camp and I never heard German again!

That’s a separate track, really - I was talking specifically about exposure to language in terms of L1 - the mother tongue, if you like, when there is only one. Children whose parents talk a lot to and with them can have heard millions more words by the time they start school than children with parents who don’t talk to them much, and there are measurable neurological differences as a result of this.


and “television running all day” is not the equivalent of “person talking to a child” in terms of language acquisition! (Or so I think.)

So parents who don’t speak much but figure that the TV will be providing language input…


Thanks for sharing that, @louis . It will be interesting to see what further studies show. There are so many variables involved, it makes it a bit hard to untangle!


Yes, I’m sure that could be supported by the current research - interaction is such a neurologically important part of communication…

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I clearly gained, not only a really balanced diet, but linguistic facility in English courtesy of Her Hitler! My mam had nothing to do but look after me! She read, she talked, she taught me !


Parent-child communication is so much more than the child listening to words, isn’t it?

As well as voice, there are smiles, eyes, a whole ranges of visual expressions (and tones of voice), hugs, cuddles, occasional reprimands, and behavioural things, like the child copying the parents actions, etc, etc.

I suppose it’s all part of parent-child bonding, which actually goes on a long time, well beyond the “baby” stage.


the article is about reading and speaking neurological research, so yes, I’d say

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@henddraig - any connection with this story?

What a nice story. I can remember that well into the 1950s there were still anti-German feeling in the UK, at least in a general sense. However, when there were personal connections like this, things were totally different. An uncle of mine did national service in Germany in the mid-50s, and I believe made some German friends, although it wasn’t exactly encouraged officially.

(He also told me that Hamburg was still a flattened wreck at that time…).

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Not exactly. ‘Our’ camp was in Northamptonshire, though the landowner was the Duke of Buccleuch, a sweet little old man whom, my mother thought, dressed like a tramp! (They held our train for him once and when she saw him, she was amazed! Her snobbishness didn’t cause her to start dressing down!).
Anyway, my Dad was at pains to tell everyone that ‘our’ Germans weren’t Nazis, just decent chaps who had been called up into the normal army. He got on well with them and, of course there were no problems with discipline! We did have trouble - sorry - the camp authorities, including my Dad, had problems with the farmers who kept inviting the men to stay for meals, harvest suppoers etc. etc.!! Mostly they just gave them passes!
But things could be very lax. My Mam, for some reason I have never known, had a notion to visit Corby. My dad detailed a man to drive her. Now this was not a soldier in his command (al too busy, I suppose). It was a POW. He wasn’t used to the car he was told to drive and had some difficulty with the brakes. My mother took one look at dirty, grimy Corby and decided to go back at once. The poor driver, ordered, “Stop!” in a shrill female voice, bumped the kerb. A policeman saw the dubious stopping techinique and approached. My Mam bravely grabbed me and fled, leaving that poor man to explain in broken English!
I can swear to what I witnessed. What happened afterwards, I have never found out, but I’d guess my Dad smoothed a few ruffled feathers! However, compared to the generous Scots, I don’t think either of my parents come up to scratch!
On Gower, in our village, we had one chap always known as ‘the German’ who had been a POW who married a Welsh girl and settled in Wales!