With the aid of animation technology and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), brains of several children have been studied by researchers from UCLA. Their discovery pointed to the children’s ability to process language information on a region of their brain that is different from the region that adults use.
The Brain and Its Role in Language Learning
There are various areas in the brain which control different functions. For instance, actions like driving a car or riding a bike no longer requires people to consciously think of moving their hands and feet in coordination.
These actions are done because of people’s automatic brain functions. To connect this to learning a new language, children actually use this automatic area of the brain in learning; thus, a second language to them is much like second nature. Adults who want to learn of a new language use a different area of their brain.
This is why it is best to become bilingual or even multilingual during childhood since the brain operates a little differently as compared to normal adult brain functions.
There are still chances for people who are under 18 to catch up and learn new languages. This is because the opportunity to inculcate skills and information into the deep motor region of the brain is open until the age of 18; but with each year that passes, the window to this brain closes slowly each time. This would explain why adults have to think in their native tongue and translate words into a second language unlike children who would think automatically in another language.
Studies of the neurology of acquiring a new language have been proven to be useful. Learning the different geographic locations in the brain where information and skills are stored for both adults and children would give language educators the chance to improve their lesson presentations and instructions. For instance, children who learn accents and sounds at an earlier age would be far better off than people who consciously study these sounds at a latter part of their lives.
Other Benefits of Learning a Different Language Early On
Learning a foreign language is much easier for children than most adults and in addition to this great advantage, children have also been proven to do better in school, have better problem-solving skills, are more open to diversity, and score much higher on standardized tests. This is according to Francois Thibaut who is in charge of The Language Workshop for Children. There are nine schools around the East Coast who have participated on the said workshop. Thibaut is known as an expert in foreign languages for babies and children.
Through the efforts of people like Thibaut, more and more parents are becoming aware of the importance of teaching a different language to their children. And since globalization now includes being able to communicate more clearly even to foreigners, immersing the future citizens (or today’s children) to different languages would help equip them with the necessary language comprehension skills.
Future ambassadors are better able to handle situations if they learned different languages early on. Therefore, the future of the world depends on how much children of today learn from the most important aspect of most cultures—language.
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Article Added on Saturday, August 16, 2008
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