Learning a language is perhaps one of the most complex processes for a student, regardless of age. But, have you ever wondered exactly how is it that we learn a new language? Language acquisition refers to storing information unconsciously for the long-term and using it in practice. Language learning, however, is the knowing process of learning new knowledge.
Scientific research has shown us that the important parts of the brain involved in learning and processing new language information include the Broca, Wernicke, middle temporal, inferior parietal and angular gyrus. Not only are these complex names for parts of our brain, but they are also indicative of the complexity of language acquisition and processing.
Apart from learning a language, perhaps, more importantly, is the capacity to use the language successfully. This requires the student to acquire a range of skills, from phonology and morphology to syntax, semantics, and extensive vocabulary. These skills are complemented by speech perception and production, which is how a child learns a language.
If we think about it on a scientific level, language procession begins with sound. Sound enters the ear and is picked up by the auditory nerve. This is converted to an electric signal and transported to the auditory cortex of our brain. Here, neurones decipher the signals into information that we can understand and process. After processing, our temporal-frontal section of the brain, in the left hemisphere, matches the information to syntactic and semantic knowledge. When we learn new information or process higher level analysis, our brain creates a new neurone linkage, which helps us remember and retain information.
This is why we can pick up on certain words and phrases even in a noisy place. The syntax or processing mechanisms are already present in our brains. This processing is even more so powerful in children as their brains have higher ‘plasticity’ and therefore learn faster. However, this is not to say that a child necessarily has a greater capacity to learn. It simply takes more hard work as an adult to learn and retain new information.
In the same vein, a native speaker does not need to work as hard to activate the processes or parts of their brain required to communicate in their native language. It is basically second nature to be able to speak fluently and coherently in that language. However, second-language speakers have to put in the extra effort to trigger their conscious minds to switch languages. Of course, like all skills, with time and practice, the switch can become effortless. But this is also contingent on an individual having proper instruction and guidance so as to achieve this fluency effectively.
At Agape School of Education, we coach our students to succeed. Using a variety of methods and training materials, our teachers find and employ what works best for their students. Be it providing students with a variety of reading materials, encouraging conversation or using different types of media, our methods are diverse. Our curriculum is unique because we place importance not only on learning but also on inspiring and enjoying the learning process.
We do this because we know that inspiring a love of the language will breed passion in our students, which will lead them to realise their goals. Get started by registering for a Course here.