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13 language-learning tips from Bates faculty and students

Bates – Emily McConville

“Learning a new language opens up career prospects, richer travel experiences, and opportunities to communicate with people. It also helps you see your own culture from a different perspective. “You won’t know your own culture or language until you learn another language or culture,” says Keiko Konoeda, a lecturer in Japanese whose research focuses on teaching languages.” (more)

The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages

The New Yorker – Judith Thurman

“No one becomes a hyperpolyglot by osmosis, or without sacrifice—it’s a rare, herculean feat. Rojas-Berscia, who gave up a promising tennis career that interfered with his language studies, reckons that there are “about twenty of us in Europe, and we all know, or know of, one another.” He put me in touch with a few of his peers, including Corentin Bourdeau, a young French linguist whose eleven languages include Wolof, Farsi, and Finnish; and Emanuele Marini, a shy Italian in his forties, who runs an export-import business and speaks almost every Slavic and Romance language, plus Arabic, Turkish, and Greek, for a total of nearly thirty. Neither willingly uses English, resenting its status as a global bully language—its prepotenza, as Marini put it to me, in Italian. Ellen Jovin, a dynamic New Yorker who has been described as the “den mother” of the polyglot community, explained that her own avid study of languages—twenty-five, to date—“is almost an apology for the dominance of English. Polyglottery is an antithesis to linguistic chauvinism.”” (more)

Some words sound lovelier than others—and learning a new language can teach you why

Quartz – Carmen Álvarez-Mayo

“When we listen to a foreign language, we may hear sounds which do not exist in our mother tongue, and may sound different from anything we have ever heard before. The first time we hear something new, a foreign sound or word—even an unknown word in our own languages—something in it may provoke delight or revulsion.” (more)

6 Benefits of learning a second language

Women Spot – Melanie Motta

“A linguist by background and speaker of three languages, I am used to being surrounded by other multilingual speakers, who whether by birth, studies or time spent abroad, have come to appreciate the resourcefulness that comes with multilingualism. Over the years, through reading on the topic and swapping notes with other polyglots, I’ve enjoyed the immediate benefits of multilingualism as a traveller—I can order a cerveza at the bar of a Cuban resort, I can ask and receive directions to la Tour Eiffel, I understood why the waiter in Italy laughed when my husband mistakenly asked for cane (dog) on his pizza rather than carne (meat). However, to know that there are many science-based benefits to speaking more than one language, fills me with a renewed pride. Let’s explore what they are:” (more)

Expecting to learn: Language acquisition in toddlers improved by predictable situations

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“The first few years of a child’s life are crucial for learning language, and though scientists know the “when,” the “how” is still up for debate. The sheer number of words a child hears is important; that number predicts school performance. In an upcoming study in Current Biology, published online August 16, researchers at the Arizona State University Department of Psychology report an additional factor that is important for language: the predictability of the learning environment.” (more)

4 reasons why some children have difficulty learning to read

E-School News – Julia Ottesen

“According to Hill for Literacy, about 66 percent of fourth-grade readers cannot read proficiently, which often translates into a growing achievement gap for these children. Why is reading such a difficult task to learn and teach? While humans are born with a natural ability for spoken language, reading is much different. In fact, Dr. Vera Blau-McCandliss, vice president of education and research at Square Panda, said that reading is a relatively new and unnatural phenomenon which she described in “Reading and the Brain.”” (more)