From VOA Learning English this is As It Is. I’m Anna Matteo in Washington.
Today on, Avis It Is, we will hear about1 something our listeners2 do every day they hear, read or watch3 VOA Learning English -- learning a second language.
We will hear whether4 being surrounded by5 a foreign language6, or immersed in it, is the best way to learn a language7. Or are traditional lectures8 with grammar rules9 and vocabulary lists the best way to learn to speak like a native speaker10. Steve Ember has more on that topic.
What is the best way to learn a new language? A small study of foreign language learning in adults compared two methods. One is known as11 the explicit or classroom12 method. This is the kind of13 traditional classroom teaching14 where students are taught15 a lot of information about grammar rules.
The other method is known as the implicit or immersion method. The idea here is to learn much the way children16 do when they learn a native language. That is, by being with17 native speakers and absorbing18 the language that surrounds them, generally without a lot of explanation19. Teachers may combine these two methods into what Professor Michael Ullman calls immersion-style classroom teaching. But is that necessarily a better20 way to learn a language?
Mr. Ullman was the senior investigator for the new study. He is a professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. He says he was surprised21 to find that combining the two methods might not help22 the brain23 in processing the new language.
MICHAEL ULLMAN: "You know, if my life were on the line24, and I had to learn a language, what would I do? I'm not sure25. One possibility would be that, to start with explicit and then go to immersion, right? Start with classroom and then go to immersion. But there is this possibility that classroom could hurt26 later27 immersion. That's what, you know, one possibility of interpreting our data28."
The twenty-one adults in the experiment learned Brocanto2, a thirteen-word language29 created for the study. The words and grammar rules30 relate to31 a computer game similar to chess32 that the learners33 played. For example, "Blom neimo lu neep li praz" means "The square34 blom-piece switches with35 the neep-piece."
The researchers tested the people three to six months after they had learned the language, to see how well they could remember36 it. The study found that37 those who had learned it with the immersion method had brain waves38 similar to those of native speakers of a language when speaking that language.
Professor Ullman says those who trained with the classroom method also became39 more native-like40 in their brain processing. But only the immersion group showed full41 native-like processing of the grammar.
Still42, he says teachers should be careful43 how they use the results of his study. MICHAEL ULLMAN: "You know I would not make any curriculum changes44 based on this. Nevertheless45, it is suggestive, and I think it warrants further research46 to see whether in fact47 what kind of training might in fact be best not just for reaching48 the native brain bases but also for, you know, maximum proficiency49 in different aspects of language, like grammar, you know, syntax and lexicon.
So I think further research is warranted. And it may be50, for example, that a combination of classroom and immersion might be best. But we don't know that." I'm Steve Ember. And I’m Anna Matteo.
So which way of learning a language is working best for you? Do you think immersion is the best way to learn a language? Or do you believe the traditional lecture model is good enough51? Let us know52 in our comment section!
- hear about = ouvir sobre
- listeners = ouvintes
- watch = assitem
- whether = se ou não
- being surrounded by = ser cercado por
- foreign language = lingua estrangeira
- the best way to learn a language = a melhor forma de aprender uma lingua
- lectures = palestras
- grammar rules = regras gramaticais
- like a native speaker = como um nativo
- known as = conhecido como
- classroom = sala de aula
- kind of = tipo de
- teaching = ensino
- taught = ensinado
- children = crianças
- being with = estando com
- absorbing = absorvendo
- generally without a lot of explanation = geralmente sem muita explicação
- better = melhor
- surprised = surpreso
- might not help = poderia não ajudar
- brain = cérebro
- if my life were on the line = se minha vida estivesse em jogo
- I'm not sure = não tenho certeza
- could hurt = poderia prejudicar
- later = mais tarde
- data = informação
- thirteen-word language = língua de treze palavras
- grammar rules = regras gramaticais
- relate to = relacionado a
- similar to chess = semelhante ao xadrez
- learners = aprendizes
- square = quadrado(a)
- switches with = troca com
- how well they could remember = o quão bem eles podiam se lembrar
- found that = descobriram que
- brain waves = ondas cerebrais
- became = tornaram-se
- native-like = parecidos com nativos
- full = completo
- Still = ainda assim
- should be careful = deveriam ser cuidadosos
- changes = alterações
- Nevertheless = todavia, contudo
- warrants further research = justifica pesquisas adicionais
- in fact = na verdade
- not just for reaching = não apenas por alcançar
- maximum proficiency = proficiência máxima
- may be = pode ser
- is good enough = é bom o suficiente
- Let us know = avise-nos