Unconscious language learning

4/11/2011

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Unconscious learning could be the secret to speeding up learning a second language.

When linguists talk about unconscious or implicit language learning, they don’t mean learning while you sleep. Rather, they are talking about one of the most intriguing of all mental phenomena: the ability to learn the complex and subtle regularities that underlie a language without even realising.
 
For children, such ‘implicit’ language learning seems to happen spontaneously in the first few years of life; yet, in adulthood, learning a second language is generally far from effortless and has varied success.
 
So marked is the difference between first- and second-language learning – at least when it takes the form of classroom learning – it might suggest that implicit learning makes no significant contribution to learning a second language. Or it may indicate that typical foreign language teaching doesn’t take full advantage of the process.


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Image: Looking up in a dictionary   Credit: Tanakawho on flickr

 

Reproduced courtesy University of Cambridge Office of Communications

 

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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