Science Grows On Acquiring New Language is the headline of a new story from Education Week.
I wouldn’t say it has much info that would be new to language teachers, but I was struck by these passages:
Social engagement, particularly with speakers of multiple languages, is critical to language learning. Social and emotional areas of the brain mediate language areas, but only now—with an MEG that can correct for the child’s head movement—are researchers starting to measure those neural connections. “When we can connect language regions with social-emotional regions with executive functions, we’ll have a picture of the whole system,” said Gina C. Lebedeva, the translation outreach and education director for I-LABS.
“The key to that series of studies is exposure and live interactions with native speakers,” Ms. Lebedeva said. “The interactions need to be naturalistic: eye contact, gestures, exaggerated phonemes.”
“Human brains are wired to learn best in social interactions, whether that learning is about language or problem-solving or emotion,” Ms. Lebedeva said.
It’s a reminder to me that I haven’t set-up a sister mainstream class for my Intermediate English class yet this year. Usually, I do that so they can have a “pen pal” relationship, and periodically do projects together.
It also reinforces my general skepticism of creating separate schools or “schools within schools” for newcomers.