Two Languages in One Brain Universidad Santo Tomás VUAD Mauricio Buitrago
1) The language brain … ?? Is there one part of the brain that is dedicated to language? What is the connection between memory and language? Is there a difference between the monolingual and the bilingual brain? When a language is “lost” where does it go?
Overview 1) The language brain. 2) Children and native language (L1) acquisition. 3) Adults and second language (L2) acquisition. 4) What does it mean to be “bilingual”?
Where is language? Language involves many features – hearing, understanding, speaking, reading – making it difficult to isolate the part of the brain involved in language. Language can be described as having levels, each one with its own neurological systems: Speech perception: Hearing and understanding sounds (phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax). Speech production: Tongue, lips, vocal chords.
Broca and Wernicke The language parts of the brain are named for two 19th century physicians, Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke. Broca’s area is located in the left frontal lobe and is considered responsible for articulated language. Wernicke’s area is located in the left temporal lobe and is considered accountable for comprehension of sounds and words.
Brain injury “january february march winter snow” Patients with injury to Broca’s area seem to have words but no grammar. Speech is characterized by disconnected content words, but ability to recollect lists, series, and songs. “the snow isn’t really tall but I went to eat supper” Patients with injury to Wernicke’s area seem to have grammar but no meaning. Speech is often rapid and grammatical, but nonsensical.
Memory Short-term memory: (working memory) processes and stores limited amount of information for a few seconds. Long-term memory: Implicit: knowledge that cannot be retrieved consciously – knowing how. Explicit: knowledge that can be consciously retrieved – knowing what.
Words and grammar Words may be stored and processed in explicit memory. Grammar may be stored and processed in implicit memory. Towers are vertical structures of varying heights.
The bilingual brain Brain imaging technologies suggest that when L2 is acquired during the sensitive period, L1 and L2 tend to be represented in the same areas. Grammatical processing seems to be sensitive to age of acquisition. Semantic processing, seems to be less sensitive to age of acquisition. ¿Qué? What?
Evidence suggests … words are supported by explicit memory. syntax is supported by implicit memory. two languages of a bilingual person access a common semantic system. adult L2 relies on explicit memory. increasing L2 proficiency changes brain organization.
Evidence suggests … Words may represent multiple kinds of brain functioning: nouns act as attentional cues and seem to activate the parts of the brain related to sensory and associative processing verbs are associated with actions and manipulation tasks and seem to activate the motor areas of the brain. (There is some indication that nouns may have evolved in the brain before verbs.)
Language loss Different features of language are affected differently when a speaker is removed from the language environment. Words seem to be more resistant to loss than grammar. Concrete words (house, book) have richer semantic representations and may be more resistant to loss that abstract words. Her nose is her best feature. Flexibility is a good feature of this program.
2) First language acquisition …?? Do children have to be “taught” how to speak? Do children generate creative utterances? How long does it take a child to become “fluent” in her native language? What does it mean when a child says “I seed the dog” or “Daddy eated his supper” ?
Environmentalist theories Environment shapes learning and behavior Children react to their surroundings Children learn language from Input Trial and error Error correction
Nativist theories Children do not need any kind of formal teaching to learn to speak. Children are born with a natural capacity to learn language. The brain contains systems for recognizing patterns of sound.
Nativism: Noam Chomsky’s L-A-D Chomsky’s theory of the LAD (Language Acquisition Device) states that every human is born with innate principles of language. Children learn language spontaneously and speak creatively. The “poverty of the stimulus theory” states that what children hear is incomplete and often ungrammatical, and cannot account for the creativity of their utterances.
Critical period hypothesis: There is a critical period for language learning. There is no agreement about how long this sensitive period lasts. Genie – the American wild child – provided evidence that language cannot be learned after puberty.
Interactionist theories: Children require interaction with a care-giver to develop language. Children follow the attention of the care-giver and learn to direct the attention of the care-giver; these activities involve intention reading and pattern finding skills. Communication is 3-way: child, adult, object. Language structure emerges from language use.
CognitiveTheory (Jean Piaget) Views language acquisition within the context of the child's broader intellectual development. A child first becomes aware of a concept, such as relative size, and only afterward do they acquire the words and patterns to convey that concept. Simple ideas are expressed earlier than more complex ones even if they are grammatically more complicated-- Conditional mood is one of the last. There is a consistent order of mastery of the most common function morphemes in a language Example from English: first-- -ing, then in and on, then the plural -s, last are the forms of the verb to be. Seems to be conditioned by logical complexity: plural is simple, while forms of the verb to be require sensitivity to both number and tense.
3) Second language acquisition …? Does an adult learn a second language the way a child learns a first language? If not, what happened to the LAD? Is there a critical period for L2 acquisition? Which is better … classroom learning or immersion experience?
More questions … ?? What is the role of grammar instruction in L2 acquisition? What is the role of interaction in L2 acquisition? What is the role of error correction in L2 acquisition? How do listening, speaking, reading, and writing contribute to L2 acquisition?
The Monitor Model FIVE HYPOTHESES: acquisition / learning are two different processes (spontaneous vs. conscious) natural order (grammar is acquired in a predictable order in a natural setting) monitor (learning functions only as an editor, or monitor) input (comprehensible input is essential for acquisition) affective filter (acquisition occurs when affective conditions are optimal, i.e., low anxiety, motivation, confidence, etc. Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition (1981) Stephen Krashen
Communicative competence Hola! 1. Grammatical competence: mastery of linguistic code 2. Sociolinguistic competence: knowledge of social and cultural rules 3. Discourse competence: ability to connect sentences coherently 4. Strategic competence: ability to use verbal and non-verbal communication strategies Canale and Swain (1983)
Adult L2 learning relies on… L1 competence general problem-solving systems general understanding about the nature of human interaction intentional / purposeful motivation
4) Are you bilingual? If you can understand a language, but not speak it, are you bilingual? If you can speak a language, but cannot write it, are you bilingual? If you can read a language, but cannot speak or write it, are you bilingual? Who decides whether or not a person is bilingual?
What does “bilingual” mean? uno, dos, tres … One, two, three …
There are at least 37 definitions of “bilingual.” Balanced bilingual = mastery of two languages is roughly equivalent Covert bilingual = someone who hides knowledge of another language because of an attitudinal dispositon Dominant bilingual = greater proficiency in one of the two languages Early bilingual = someone who acquired both languages in childhood Late bilingual = someone who became bilingual later than childhood Receptive bilingual = someone who understands but does not read or write Secondary bilingual = someone whose second language had been added to a first via instruction Incipient bilingual = someone at the early stages of bilingualism
There are many places a person can become bilingual. at home at school traveling when you’re in love in the work place
Demystifying bilingualism No one has the same level or the same type of proficiency in two (or more) languages! je parle ich spreche yo hablo
Attitudes about bilingualism In the 19th century people believed that being bilingual was detrimental to intellectual and spiritual growth. In the early 20th century some studies indicated that bilingual children had lower IQs than monolingual children. Today, some bilingual speakers may be encouraged to suppress their minority language in favor of the culturally dominant language.
Cognitive advantages of bilingualism creative thinking flexible thinking faster learning larger vocabulary greater sensitivity in communication
Code-switching is … the alternating use of two or more languages in a single conversation event. a natural, observable occurrence among people of all ages who speak more than one language. the norm for many bilinguals. a mostly unconscious, spontaneous language phenomenon in bilingual interactions. El profeesreally nice. Yeah … So, do you want to go a tomarunapolanow?
CS is a linguistic phenomenon … CS is rule-governed and may even be a type of skilled language performance. One language in bilingual speech production is more dominant and activated than the other; the dominant one is called the matrix language and the secondary one is the embedded language. The grammar of the matrix language governs the structure of words (morphology) and the order of words (syntax) in CS.
CS is a social phenomenon … CS can be an intentional strategy to convey power express anger be funny (Open the window paraquelasmoscas fly) create social distance OR intimacy
Where are you on the bilingual continuum? Can you understand French? Can you speak French? Can you read? Write? Do you engage in word play with French? Do you code-switch? BILINGUAL CONTINUUM ----x---------------------------------------x-- incipient balanced
Summary We explored theories about the language brain … first language acquisition … second language learning / acquisition … bilingualism … ARE YOU BILINGUAL?