This week in language learning, 5th to 12th Jan 2017

Posted on 12/01/2017


Happy New Year, language learners! I’m introducing a new feature, where I round up news and views about language learning from around the world.

From Lifehacker: Rosetta Stone or Duolingo?

This language learning showdown is truly a battle of two generations and two ideals. In one corner we have a company that has been around since the early 90s, selling effective language learning software to people for 25 years. In the other corner is the new kid on the block, championing the belief that learning language should be freely available to everyone.

On Life Science: possible link between synaethesia and language learning

If synaesthesia is a mental aid for complex learning, then people with different language backgrounds should have different rates of synaesthesia, the researchers hypothesized. Their working theory was that children who grew up hearing and speaking two languages from a very young age would have higher rates of synaesthesia than those who either did not learn a second language or learned one later in life.

The neuroscience of language learning: why most humans are bilingual.

Edna Andrews is the Nancy & Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Slavic & Eurasian Studies, director of the Duke Linguistics Program, and author of “Neuroscience & Multilingualism” (Cambridge University Press, 2014). In the following interview, she discusses her research and intriguing questions in the study of the brain and language. 

The best time to learn a new language is before we’re three, argues the Irish Examiner. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn later, though!

Kids are like sponges and can remember words, phrases and songs they hear in a fun environment. Also the ‘speech muscles’ are not completely developed yet and are more versatile so can adapt to producing new sounds (such as language). That’s why when a child says a word in a foreign language their pronunciation is more pure than the adult who struggles to produce the same information with a native accent.

Duolinguo is introducing clubs to make language learning more competitive.

Known as Duolingo Clubs, the feature lets you create language clubs of up to 15 members. In a club, you can compete with one another to accomplish language goals, track each other’s progress and place on a leaderboard.

Language learning books  have proved particularly popular at the Delhi book fair.

With over 20 countries participating in the ongoing New Delhi World Book Fair, foreign publishers are offering a diverse collection of books, but it is the language learning guides that are attracting heavy footfall.

Available for several foreign languages like French, German, and Persian among others, the books cater to all levels of learning – from picture books for beginners to novels for veterans.

According to Ishjot, who is managing the stall for German Book Office, majority of their customers comprise of parents who want their children to start learning German from an early age.

— for more hints and tips on language learning, buy Conquering Babel: A Practical Guide to Learning a Language here in the US and here in the UK.

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