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Posts Tagged ‘Language Learning’

Linguistics - Phonology

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Phonology has to do with organized sounds used in natural languages. It is a variety of sounds and the features of those sounds. Phonology constitutes specific rules of the interaction of sounds with each other.

Phonology relates to other aspects of language such as morphology and phonetics. It determines the kind of phonetic sound and their significance as well as the explanation and interpretation of sounds by the native linguist. It is similar to the way in which language constitutes syntax and vocabulary.

Phonology is a descriptive preface to the way that sounds function in any language. Sounds are combined in their specific unit of a language. An example of this in the English language is the sound that “p,” makes in the word, “pet,” includes the aspirated feature.

However, in the word, “group,” the “p,” becomes the final ending of the word and does not have an aspirated feature. In other words, even though, it is the same letter, “p,” the sounds when incorporated in each word is different.

It is easy to observe that different languages have different combination of sounds for any given word. Certain sounds are found in specific languages while absent in the next. In a specific language, sounds are different because of vowel interchanging that form those words.

The goal of phonology attempts to be accountable for the similar ways in which sound affects different languages. It also seeks to describe the rules of sound and its structure within a specific language.

Although, different languages have different combined sounds and a variety of ways to arrange and pattern these sounds, it goes without saying that there a few similar ways in which they span the human language on a whole.
Some of these similar ways that are universal to all languages are:
1.    Every consonant has a voiceless stop
2.    Every language has syllables
3.    Every inventory can be divided into vowels and consonants.

Conclusion

Correction pronunciation is important in any language and phonology makes sure that this becomes a rule. There are some linguists who incorporate phonetics within the scope of phonology to make it easier for the person learning a second language.

Linguistics - Universal Grammar

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

All humans are born with the ability and drive to learn language. Before we can even walk we start talking. From birth we are listening with intent, ready to learn our native tongue. Evolution has seen to it that we have an aptitude for language learning, but just how much of our abilities are we born with and how much to we acquire as we go along?

When we learn languages, we use the knowledge and skills acquired from the language we already know to understand this new language. That is, we take the rules of language, such as the use of verbs and adjective, sentence structure and syntax, and apply them to the new language. While these rules will always change and vary between languages there are some structures between languages that remain the same. This is known as universal grammar. Items than can be considered a part of universal grammar include tense, aspect and mood.

There are some rules that when applied to one language can be applied to practically any language. For instance, if a language has a name for the color red, it will have a word for the color purple. These rules do not always apply to every single language, which makes the theory of universal grammar difficult for linguists to prove. Universal Grammar forms part of the nature vs. nurture that has had scientists guessing for generations. Are we born destined to grow into a certain person with certain abilities, or do we acquire these characteristics along the way?

Within the field of linguistics there are two theories as to how we learn language as children. The theory of universal grammar was proposed by linguist Noam Chomsky. He believed that a set part of our brain was dedicated to language, and that this part of the brain had a set group of rules which we applied to language. It cannot be changed or altered, we do not learn it we are born with it. These structures appear in every language around the world. The alternative theory is that we are born with no pre-existing knowledge of language, rather it is something that we acquire.

Language Learning Methods - Two-Way

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

The developmental program of Two-way language is also known as the bilingual immersion programs as well as dual language program. These programs are intense and full time and use two languages for instruction and learning.

Most of these programs consist of students that speak a native language such as Spanish and are attempting to learn a new language such as English. In both elementary and high schools, these programs are prevalent and very active. Half of the class of students consists of some Spanish students and some English students who are native speakers of their language.

The student learns the language through their native language as well as through the second language that they are trying to learn. The student uses this two way method of learning to be more astute and proficient in both languages, but it helps them to develop their skills in the second language.

The two-way language program is more geared towards bilingual education than it is for students who are limited in their proficiency in English. It is an enrichment program that gives student a better understanding between two languages. Students who are not as proficient in English will feel like they are equally educated to their peers and it helps them to excel in their education.

The Two-Way language development program is more effective if it:

1.    Allows for participation in both languages
2.    Focuses on subjects that are academic
3.    Incorporate the curriculum for both languages
4.    Allows student to use the language learned in their home
5.    Empowerment of students with active learning
6.    Use the minority language sufficiently
7.    CALP development

The Two-Way Language acquisition program has two primary goals and that is:

1.    That Minority Students will learn things in their own languages as well as in the second language.
2.    Those Majority students will increase their level of language proficiency in the second language while progressively developing in the native language.

Students in both groups of language learning will have an academic performance at the grade level that they are at ad develop attitudes that are confident and positive towards learning the two languages.

Conclusion
It is important that the two-way language program last for up to six years to ensure proficiency in essentially the second language.

Language Learning Software - Picture Flashcards with Audio

Friday, September 25th, 2009

 

Learning a Second Language With iPhone

 

Many of us wish to learn a second language. For some people it’s to travel and for others work. Sometimes people learn a language just for the fun of it. There is no doubt about it though, learning a language can be hard work. You need discipline to keep heading off to those evening classes when you would rather be putting your feet up at home. Then you need to find time during the week to do your homework. Let’s not forget that once you have acquired language skills you need to keep using them in order to retain them.

 

A lot of things seem to get in the way of people learning languages, work, family and simply not having enough time. Since the iphone was launched, a massive amount of educational applications have along with it entered the market. Some of the most promising application are those that aid in second language acquisition.

 

Learning a language on the iphone is easy. There are heaps of applications to chose from in practically any learning style you can imagine. Some are highly involved, others require just a few minutes of your time each day. It’s really up to you the style in which you learn and when you want to spend time learning.

 

To get started with you second language all you need is an iphone and internet access. There are many affordable options available, most applications cost around ten dollars, some are even free.

 

Gengo Audio Flashcards

 

One of the best ways to learn a new language is through the use of flashcards. Many language teachers have relied on this method for years. Gengo flashcards use this tried and true method. Gengo goes one step further to add audio to the flash cards. This way you can see a picture of the word you are looking at while hearing the correct pronunciation as spoken by a native.

 

Here is how it works; the application comes with thousand of audio flash cards. You decide you want to learn the word for lemon.
The screen shows a picture of a lemon, and the word lemon written in English, It also shows the word lemon in the target language, then plays an audio clip of the word lemon being spoken by a native. This ties together the aspects of vocabulary, oral and written comprehension as well as a visual picture which helps your brain to better remember what you are learning.

 

You can dedicate as much or as little time as you like to learn your language. You may wish to learn ten words a day or just one word a week. The great thing about Gengo is that you will never outgrow it, in fact you can create your own audio flashcard in under thirty seconds. Simply snap a photo of something and enter the name for in English and the target language.

 

Gengo also comes with a quiz to test your new skills. Running through your recently viewed flashcards, Gengo will assess your progress so far and point out any weak spots that you need to work on. The quiz really feels like a game in the way it is setup and is much too fun to really feel like learning.

 

This is really two applications in one. You can view the flashcards and work on building vocabulary, or switch over to game mode and test your skills. An important part of learning is revision, to really remember what we have learnt we must continue to revise it or we will forget.

 

Try Gengo Flashcards for FREE, now!

Language Learning - Learner Internal Factors

Monday, August 17th, 2009

There are many reasons that people choose to learn a second language. We may be planning to travel or looking for a job overseas. We may learn a second language from our family or while we are at school. Some people tend to learn language quickly while others struggle. Have you ever wondered why this is?

Within the field of linguistics, our level of competence in learning a second language is referred to as learner internal factors. Input is the exposure to the second language, and instruction is the method by which we are taught. Two people with exactly the same exposure to a second language will learn at completely different rates. While one learner may walk away from a lesson taking in all that they have learnt, another may leaving having recalled nothing.

Age is a major factor in language learning. Children seem to learn a second language much more easily than adults, and usually reach a high level of fluency as well. For this reason, many elementary schools have second language learning built into their curriculum. While it has not been proven conclusively, it is evident that a crucial period for language learning occurs before puberty, when we have a much greater aptitude for language learning.

Research has shown that those who have learnt a second language already will make better progress with subsequent language that they learn. The brain works like a muscle, so to speak, the more we exercise certain parts of it the stronger and more efficient they become. By learning languages, we utilize the parts of the brain involved and improve our own aptitude.

Even personality can have an effect on how someone learns a language. Of course, motivation has an effect. The more motivation you have will change the amount of effort that is placed into language learning. It has also been shown that people with generally low levels of anxiety and stress make for better language learners. Those who are extroverts tend to do better at language learning than introverts. This is thought to  be because extroverts have a lesser fear of failure and are more willing to ask for help.

Language Learning - Learner External Factors

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Have you ever stopped to consider how we learn second languages? If you are considering taking up a second language, knowing the process of how we learn can make you a more competent student as well as speeding up the process of learning at the same time. The way in which we learn our second language is different to how we learn our first. As we grow older our cognitive functions develop, giving us better skills to learn new things. As a child we are exposed to our native language, or languages, all of the time, whereas second language acquisition may be limited to just one or two hours a week.

Learner External Factors are the ways in which we are exposed to a second language and how we are effected by these outside forces. To better understand how we learn, linguists have studied the different ways we come across information on second languages.

Social effects can have a large impact on second language learning. If for example, you come from an Italian background but speak only English, you may encounter a large amount of encouragement in regard to learning Italian from your family and community. Discouragement can also occur, for instance after the September 11 attacks, the number of students studying Arabic dropped dramatically in many western countries due to the stigma attached to the Arabic language and culture after the attacks.

Input and intake are terms used within linguistics to describe exposure to language learning and the amount of information retained. Input is information the learner receives about the second language, usually direct exposure to the language itself. For example, if you spent an hour in a class learning Spanish, this would count as input. Intake is the information you remember. Linguists believe in order to maximize intake, input level should be slightly more than the learner is able to take in. Next time you are in a class and don’t quite feel like you understand everything, don’t worry. It’s the best and fastest way to learn. A good way to maximize intake is through interaction with native speakers. This ensures the language us have learnt is usable and also helps to build vocabulary.

Pedagogical techniques, or teaching methods, have also bee extensively studied. The way we are taught can drastically change how much we learn. It is believed by many specialists in the field that current techniques are not as effective as they could be.

Language Learning - Stages of Language Development (PEPSI)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

There are four levels and stages of language development that helps anyone to learn a second language.

In level one, this is the silent stage where there is not much comprehending and production at this stage is nonverbal. The student is listening to the language to try and make sense of it.

This is the first level stage where there is a lot more imitation than anything else. There is a pretense in how much the student comprehends. A lot of gestures and body language take precedence.

Level two is the early stage of production with limited comprehending in which responses are only through one or two words. This is the survival stage where the student feels that they need to learn enough for basic functioning. There is a lot of uncertainty at this time in this stage.

The last two stages

Level three gives the student an opportunity to emerge from nonverbal to verbal interaction. Comprehending the language becomes much easier by using simple sentences. You will find that in this stage there are more mistakes committed in verbal communication.

Plural and past tense are not important at this stage. The student may understand the concepts of the language, but is trying to become comfortable with the new language. Grammatical errors don’t’ concern the student at this point. Words are used, but not necessarily appropriately.

Level four is the final stage that consists of excellent comprehension of language. The student is able to use more complicated sentences and language fluency is more noticed. A lot more generalization is used in this stage of the game.

In this stage, it is helpful if students ask the teacher to define words and concepts in the language by indicating if they do or do not understand. An experiment with words and phrase among peers is usually the result of this stage.

These stages are noticed specifically in young children two years old who are just beginning to form their new language. They usually start off by using a vocabulary of fifty words that are recognizable.

Their sentences consist of two or more words. They respond quickly to one word or short phrase instructions such as “get me the toy,” or “come.” The toddler will often do some self talk and takes time to name things and repeat what these things do. These are similar to the stages of language development.

Conclusion

In the first stage, the teacher should never force the student to speak unless they are ready. It is quite feasible to learn silently. The second stage is the production of words and phrases that highlight the answers to what, where and who questions.

The third stage enhances the student’s dialogue and they are able to ask simple questions, but with grammatical mistakes, which is quite normal. The fourth stage is the actual intermediate stage of learning where the vocabulary has grown so that the student can share their thoughts more clearly.

There is a fifth and final stage, but this is more advanced and may take up to seven years to acquire language proficiency.

Immersion Programs - Language Learning

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

During the 1960s, Canada experimented with the French Immersion Program to allow students to understand their French culture, tradition and its language; both French and English.

Immersion programs can be either a full or partial instruction of a second language. A full immersion is more effective because of the intensive curriculum. The second language is the medium used to teach students and more time is spent on this especially in the early years of a student’s schooling. This includes both reading and the language arts.

Partial immersion cuts the time spent in half learning a second language. Language arts and reading are partially taught in English and the other half in the second language.

Teachers that use these immersion programs expect to accomplish one or all of the items listed below on a long term basis:

1.    To develop the student’s level of proficiency
2.    To create a positive attitude toward the native language speakers and their cultures
3.    Develop the student’s English Language skills dependent on their age and expected abilities.
4.    Acquiring skills and content knowledge according to the curriculum and the objectives of the school board

The success of an immersion program has to do with how much administrative support is offered. The support of the community and parents are also helpful. Teachers have to be qualified and must have the right teaching materials for the second language. Developmental staff training and time given to teachers for preparation of instructional materials are very important.

Total immersion programs give the students more exposure to the language to make them more proficient. Some students may find it too much and so teachers will make recommendations to move students to a less intense program. It is not easy to find a total immersion teacher and so schools will usually promote the partial immersion classes. Some parents don’t think that students can learn a second language just as well as their own.

Partial immersion programs does not need as much special teachers. Schools can utilize the services of one teacher for two partial immersion programs for two half-days. In some cases, it makes the parents feel more at ease that their children are not spending all day learning a curriculum in a second language other than English. The proficiency level, however, of part time immersion students is far less than those for students in the total immersion programs.

Conclusion

In an immersion program, the second language is not the subject matter, but only a tool used to teach students how to become proficient in another language other than their own.

Linguistics - Morphology

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Morphology examines and studies how words are structured internally. It also looks at the way words are formed and the rules that go along with them.

Morphology spans three primary approaches that embrace the difference of each model in different ways. These three approaches are:

1.    The item and arrangement approach - Morpheme
2.    The item and process approach - Lexeme
3.    The word and paradigm approach – Word-based

These are strongly associated, but do have their differences and are not unlimited in how they are applied to the new language. According to the morphology model, a student will have knowledge of a word when they become familiar with:

1.    The spelling of the word
2.    The pronunciation of the word
3.    The definition of the word
4.    The part of speech of the word
5.    The history of the word
6.    If the word is improper
7.    If the word out of date
8.    Examples of the word
9.    Any slang associated with the word
10.    The root and stem of the word

With morphology, students who can analyze and identify a word in a second language; would have mastered the language to some degree. Rules in most languages determine how closely related words are.

For example in the English language, native speakers may be able to relate to the words, cats, cat, and cat food. They intuitively make inference to the fact that cat is to cats as bird is to birds. In a similar instance, cat is to cat food as bird is to bird feed.

The way that a student identifies both words; cat and cats as being related or similar is known as lexeme. On the other hand, bird and bird cage are different lexemes because they fall into different categories of word form.

The student understands the rules in terms of precise patterns in which the word is formed in a sentence or phrase.

Conclusion

So it is conclusive to say that morphology is an area of linguistics that is the study of the pattern in which words are formed within any language. It tries to form rules that are a representation of the knowledge of the students that speak the languages.

Language Learning - Maintenance Bilingual Program

Monday, July 13th, 2009

The maintenance bilingual program is specifically created to maintain and improve a student’s native language as the student tries to learn a second language.

In 1997, the National Research Council wrote a report that signifies the fact that students who are fully developed in their native language are more than likely to develop proficiently in a second language than those who do not have that benefit.

When a student can understand instruction in their native language, they are able to use those same abilities to acquire a second language. However, the maintenance program puts more emphasis on how fluent those children speak in both languages while they are in school. It should also be evident in how they maintain their academic skills.

Maintenance programs enrich and add stability to how students learn a new language. They are better able to engage and become participants of instructional work given and not just for exposure to it.

Becoming Organized

Usually maintenance bilingual programs are organized in groups of students who have the same native language. This will help them to use their native language instructions to articulate in the new language learned. The primary goal for a maintenance bilingual program is to keep the student’s skills intact while they learn a new language. It helps to develop and continue the enrichment of both languages. The student’s culture is also important to maintain so the student can feel comfortable learning a new language.

There are so much more benefits to speaking two languages. However, having a proficiency in both is an added advantage to the student. The teacher should never let the student feel as if they are giving up their native language. The student will learn faster if they can identify with the new language learned and incorporate what they know from their native language into learning the new language.

The maintenance bilingual program helps students to be more competent in English while still maintaining their own language and culture. The idea of biliteracy is encouraged. Biliteracy is when the teacher accommodates the student and allows them to learn two languages using the same curriculum.

Conclusion

The student is able to develop their cognitive and academic skills in both their native and second language. This would help the student to become more successful because they would be prepared both academically and cognitively.