What do you pay attention to when trying to acquire a new language?
Cambridge University have been running an interesting research programme this summer. Both groups of children and groups of adults are being taught the same Polish course by the same tutor. Researchers hope to determine whether a person’s age or mother tongue affects their ability to learn a language.
The lessons contribute to an international project which is also running in France, Germany and the Netherlands, and is a collaboration between France’s Universite Paris 8, Germany’s Universatat Osnabruek, University of York, and Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands, as well as Cambridge.
Dr Henriëtte Hendriks, from the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics at Cambridge University, said:
“The idea is that kids might do something different to adults when they approach language learning. We’ve chosen Polish because it’s an interesting language with a lot of different endings of words. It’s not a very familiar language in any of the countries we’re working in, although there are a lot of Polish people in them all.”
The researchers want to find out what we pay attention to most when learning a new language, whether it is identifying words which are close to our mother tongue, or the order of the words in a sentence.
What do you tend to pick up first, when learning a new language?