Have you ever wondered about the science behind language learning? Here are some of the best language learning approaches based on science.
Learning a new language occurs as an instinct among children. However, these instincts fade with time. A recent study on how people learn a language and the influence age has on this process found out that there is a high possibility of achieving native grammar and pronunciation mastery if you begin learning a language before the age of 18 years.
However, this does not imply that adults have no chance of learning a language. It just means that it may take a longer time or process to achieve mastery. This has led to most grammar teachers developing innovative ways of teaching new languages among adults. Examples include; spaced repetition, grammar drills, and word list memorization.
Since linguists are still engaging in research, they have discovered certain techniques that work. Therefore, this article aims at analyzing the scientific position on language learning by helping you to understand scientific strategies that can help improve the process.
Why would you want to sound like a native speaker? This is a fair question because lots of individuals do not care how they sound when speaking foreign languages. All that matters to them is communicating with other people. The truth is that you do not require to have a perfect accent for effective communication. For example, if you can translate Dutch to English, it means that you can interpret messages, and this is what matters more than how you sound when speaking either of the two languages.
However, with a better accent, you increase your chances of blending in with the natives. This is a common goal for people planning to settle in new countries. It is also important to individuals who want to socialize with natives of a given language fully. A smooth accent makes the conversation more fun and engaging.
But why do people develop these accents? What can they do to minimize or do away with a foreign accent?
Linguists have provided two main justifications as to why learners of a new language develop foreign accents. Understanding these reasons may help you know what to improve in your language learning process.
The first reason is the failure to understand the differences between the two sounds that don’t exist in the learner’s native language. The other one is that new languages may contain sounds requiring you to utilize your mouth muscles differently.
The accent is a challenge to overcome among language learners. The common form of this sound variation challenge is that of temptation to pronounce foreign language words using our native tongue. The spelling of these words may be similar, but the pronunciation is what differs. For example, the word “cable” has the same spelling in both English and Spanish, but how it is pronounced in these languages differs.
The scientific rationale for this is that at birth, an individual has a polyglot brain that helps us understand sound differences in all languages across the globe. However, as we grow older, the brain starts becoming selective. It starts being more concerned about the acoustic variations that matter to our native language while filtering out those that don’t matter. While this selective filtering is advantageous for increased mastery of your native language, it disadvantages you when learning a new language.
With this fact in mind, how then do you identify the sound difference in pronunciations? Through studying this concept, linguists have come up with innovative ways to help learners overcome this challenge.
One of these techniques is minimal pair training method. Works through the learner listening to word pronunciation whose sound difference they hope to understand. They will then stipulate which of those pronunciations they think is right and get instant feedback on whether the choice made is correct. With several instances of such practice, you will effectively manage to understand the difference and pronounce those words better.
Scientific facts about language propose that it is possible to train the muscles in your mouth to have a similar pronunciation as native speakers. All you need is a small understanding of mouth positions during pronunciations. It entails aspects such as positioning your tongue, lips, and teeth to produce the desired sound. This should be practiced regularly until your mouth naturally adapts to these positionings.
How can you learn about positioning your mouth? You are in luck because once again the internet comes to your rescue. You can research for several language teachers on youtube. Search for their videos on mouth positions during pronunciation. Use these videos to practice based on the language you are learning.
There have been several debates on the most appropriate techniques for learning new language vocabularies. The hottest of all have been between memorizing words and natural learning through listening and reading content related to the new language. However, scientific studies have shown that learners who can effectively combine the two techniques have a bigger advantage.
It is one of the commonly used languages learning technique. It entails drafting words or sentences of the language you are learning on one side of your card and animation or translation of those words on the other side. Therefore, you learn by looking at one side of that card and using your mind to see if you can figure what’s on the other side. You will then turn that card and determine whether you got it right. The concept is closely utilized with spaced repetition.
Your brain makes a vocabulary learning tool. This is because when you listen or read a vocabulary, your brain will try to establish a pattern in anticipation of what will come later. The N400 signal facilitates this by taking statistics and anticipating what words usually come together, similarly to a native speaker. The rationale is that science considers N400 as one of the electrophysiological distinction of native language understanding. In essence, the N400 will be highly responsive to new vocabularies compared to new words. To utilize the N400, you need to expose yourself to vocabularies of the new language. For example, you can interact with people speaking it, listen to podcasts, and watch videos that use the lexicon. This will enable the brain to develop a pattern of the words that are used together; hence, you will be able to remember these vocabularies as you continue listening to the podcasts or communicating with native speakers.
Are there more fun ways of learning pronunciations, grammar, and vocabularies. Here are a few techniques to use:
Working with a team makes language learning easier and more fun. This is because you will have partners to practice with while still socializing with them.
The problem with large goals is that you may lose hope of achieving them. Therefore, to avoid giving up, break it down to simpler achievable goals. Break them down to smaller daily goals.
Now that you have understood the science behind language learning, you should use these innovative techniques of learning. You can develop and practice them with your language before learning a new lexicon. It will help you with your traveling experiences because you will be able to learn new languages without experiencing a lot of difficulties. It will also help you to learn as many languages as the places you want to visit in your lifetime.