Friday, July 12, 2013

The Three Secrets: Learning Language

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There are three basic keys ('secrets,' if you wish) to learning to speak any language adequately (for most purposes) within an incredibly short period of time, with credit given, in part, to Dr. Pimsleur of the famous "Pimsleur Approach":

1) Every language has its principal structure in common with every other language. These common roots emerged from the very beginnings of Humankind's first use of language, and they have not changed structurally. Were you to waste some time a diagram a sentence in any language, you would find the same building blocks. While writing is different, speech is very much the same. Your mind is built to learn and speak any and all language;

2) Repetition, drill and writing actually inhibit our ability to "absorb" speech and to connect it with the core language center of our brains. These things don't enhance our ability, but they serve to confuse us and to set our subconscious minds on a destructive course to defeat our innate abilities [not to mention that they serve to bring back the years of accumulated self-doubts and limiting beliefs which keep us from being successful at most every endeavor. The harder you try, the more elusive the basics become;

3) We learn to speak a language better when we listen to it being spoken and begin to unconsciously allow our central 'language learning zone' to zero in on it. We learn to respond, hesitantly at first, and then faster and faster until we've reached a conversational pace.

Please enjoy the sales presentation by Pimsleur Associates which follows to learn a bit more. Please bear in mind that neither The Braintenance Blog, nor Douglas E. Castle, nor any of the affiliates of either have any financial interest in the Pimsleur Company or receive any compensation from the company; nor do any of the aforementioned persons or entities endorse or pass on the merits of the particular program.

Enjoy the presentation which follows, both for the wonderfully "open" and educational marketing approach, and for what is said[ enjoy the part about the 'phonological loop' of the brain -- that's entertaining and educational.

If for any reason the above link should fail you, try this one:

Thank you, as always for reading me and for sharing my articles with your connections, contacts and colleagues through your social media sharing tools and networks.

Douglas E. Castle

More about the Phonological Loop, from Wikipedia, slightly corrupt (ask BP!), but still useful:

The phonological loop (or "articulatory loop") as a whole deals with sound or phonological information. It consists of two parts: a short-term phonological store with auditory memory traces that are subject to rapid decay and an articulatory rehearsal component (sometimes called the articulatory loop) that can revive the memory traces.
Any auditory verbal information is assumed to enter automatically into the phonological store. Visually presented language can be transformed into phonological code by silent articulation and thereby be encoded into the phonological store. This transformation is facilitated by the articulatory control process. The phonological store acts as an "inner ear", remembering speech sounds in their temporal order, whilst the articulatory process acts as an "inner voice" and repeats the series of words (or other speech elements) on a loop to prevent them from decaying. The phonological loop may play a key role in the acquisition of vocabulary, particularly in the early childhood years.[3] It may also be vital for learning a second language.

Five main findings provide evidence for the phonological loop:
  1. The effect of phonological similarity:
    Lists of words that sound similar are more difficult to remember than words that sound different. Semantic similarity (similarity of meaning) has comparatively little effect, supporting the assumption that verbal information is coded largely phonologically in working memory.[4]
  2. The effect of articulatory suppression:
    Memory for verbal material is impaired when people are asked to say something irrelevant aloud. This is assumed to block the articulatory rehearsal process, thereby leaving memory traces in the phonological loop to decay.[5]
  3. Transfer of information between codes:
    With visually presented items, adults usually name and sub-vocally rehearse them, so the information is transferred from a visual to an auditory code. Articulatory suppression prevents this transfer, and in that case the above mentioned effect of phonological similarity is erased for visually presented items.[6]
  4. Neuropsychological evidence:
    A defective phonological store explains the behavior of patients with a specific deficit in phonological short-term memory. Aphasic patients with dyspraxia are unable to set up the speech motor codes necessary for articulation, caused by a deficiency of the articulatory rehearsal process.[7]
  5. On the other hand, patients with dysarthria, whose speech problems are secondary, show a normal capacity for rehearsal. This suggests that it is the subvocal rehearsing that is crucial.[8]

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