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LilleOSC
Senior Member
United States
lille.theoffside.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5000 days ago

545 posts - 546 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, Arabic (Written)

 
 Message 25 of 90
07 April 2007 at 6:19pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
reineke wrote:
If I'm using Pimsleur and there's a silence, I don't see why I can't open my yap and pronounce things as my voice is not directly interfering with the input.


That's the whole point. Don't open your yap. The theory goes something like this:

  1. The brain decides how the mouth will pronounce the words based on how they sound.
  2. More exposure to the sounds will mean that the brain has a better idea of how to make the sound.
  3. The imprint from your own speaking is much stronger than that of others speaking, i.e. your brain will form the sounds more based on how you've pronounced them before than on how you've heard them being pronounced by others.
  4. So if you start speaking before you've let your brain take in enough of the sounds from other speakers, your pronounciation will be less than perfect (probably because the brain borrows the missing data from how you've pronounced similar sounds in the past, mostly in your native language, or just 'winging it').
  5. This will lead to a malicious loop where you pronounce badly, which leaves an imprint in the brain, which makes you pronounce it just the same the next time. Conscious effort and mimicking the sounds of natives can improve your pronounciation a bit, but it's very difficult to get all of that bad pronounciation out of your brain.


This means that there's no such thing as a "critical period". The difference between how children learn a language and how adults learn, is that children keep their yaps shut for three years. If adults do the same, they get the same results, as the ALG classes demonstrate. Problem is, for an adult, keeping the yap shut is dreadfully boring and frustrating.

And naturally, the input has to be comprehensible, or your brain won't know which sound goes with which word.
Interesting theory.
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reineke
Senior Member
United States
https://learnalangua
Joined 4756 days ago

851 posts - 1008 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 26 of 90
07 April 2007 at 6:40pm | IP Logged 
Some very interesting reading about brain's response to foreign language learning:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/SLA/neurolinguisticsla .htm


Brain processing of native and foreign languages

We used positron emission tomography to study brain activity in adults while they were listening to stories in their native language, in a second language acquired after the age of seven, and in a third unknown language. Several areas, similar to those previously observed in monolinguals, were activated by the native but not by the second language. Both the second and the unknown language yielded distinct left-hemispheric activations in areas specialized for phonological processing, which were not engaged by a backward speech control task. These results indicate that some brain areas are shaped by early exposure to the maternal language, and are not necessarily activated by the processing of a second language to which they have been exposed for a limited time later in life.

Distinct cortical areas associated with native and second languages

The ability to acquire and use several languages selectively is a unique and essential human capacity. Here we investigate the fundamental question of how multiple languages are represented in a human brain. We applied functional magnetic resonance Imaging (fMRI) to determine the spatial relationship between native and second languages in the human cortex, and show that within the frontal-lobe language-sensitive regions (Broca’s area), second languages acquired in adulthood (‘late’ bilingual subjects) are spatially separated from native languages. However, when acquired during the early language acquisition stage of development (‘early’ bilingual subjects), native and second languages tend to be represented in common frontal cortical areas. In both late and early bilingual subjects, the temporal- lobe language-sensitive regions (Wernicke’s area) also show effectively little or no separation of activity based on the age of language acquisition. This discovery of language-specific regions in Broca’s area advances our understanding of the cortical representation that underlies multiple language functions...

'The bilingual brain: proficiency and age of acquisition of the second language'

Functional imaging methods show differences in the pattern of cerebral activation associated with the subject’s native language (L1) compared with a second language L2 In a recent PET investigation on bilingualism we showed that auditory processing of stories in L1 (Italian) engages the temporal lobes and temporoparietal cortex more extensively than L2 (English). However, in that study the Italian subjects learned L2 late and attained a fair, but not an excellent command of this language (low proficiency, late acquisition bilinguals). Thus, the different patterns of activation could be ascribed either to age of acquisition or to proficiency level. In the current study we use a similar paradigm to evaluate the effect of early and late acquisition of L2 in highly proficient bilinguals.


We studied a group of Italian-English bilinguals who acquired L2 after the age of 10 years (high proficiency, late acquisition bilinguals) and a group of Spanish- Catalan bilinguals who acquired L2 before the age of 4 years (high proficiency, early acquisition bilinguals). The differing cortical responses we had observed when low proficiency volunteers listened to stories in L1 and L2 were not found in either of the high proficiency groups in this study. Several brain areas, similar to those observed for L1 in low proficiency bilinguals, were activated by L2. These findings suggest that, at least for pairs of L1 and L2 languages that are fairly close, attained proficiency is more important than age of acquisition as a determinant of the cortical representation of L2.

Edited by reineke on 07 April 2007 at 7:22pm

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mjcdchess
Diglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 5256 days ago

46 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish

 
 Message 27 of 90
07 April 2007 at 7:26pm | IP Logged 
My experience has been that I began doing the pimsleur Spanish and listening to the radio in my car tuned to the Spanish stations. Suddenly I understood a lot of what was being said on the radio. I have finished all three levels of Spanish Pimsleur and I understand more and more on the radio and am not doing anything now other than listening to the radio in the car.

Mandarin has been more difficult. I have finished all three levels of Pimsleur Mandarin and am listening now to Mandarin Radio and TV. I understand at times whole sentences and I can alway tell what the subject is but it is nowhere as complete as my understanding of Spanish. I think that is due to the difficulty for an English speaker that Mandarin presents.

I rarely talk to anyone except in English but my goal has been to understand the TV and radio in both languages. I am there in the Spanish but not the Mandarin as of yet.

Some days are better than others


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reineke
Senior Member
United States
https://learnalangua
Joined 4756 days ago

851 posts - 1008 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 28 of 90
07 April 2007 at 8:18pm | IP Logged 
In the end, we're all a bunch of language geeks?

http://www.zompist.com/whylang.html
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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4859 days ago

2365 posts - 3803 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 29 of 90
07 April 2007 at 9:38pm | IP Logged 
slucido wrote:
Shadowing has been one of the best advices I have read in this forum.

Shadowing implies that you are reading out loud, along with audio, right? Excellent technique.

For an even more intense focus on pronunciation, you may find closing the book and repeating a sentence, a phrase, a word or even a syllable along with audio more effective. I just set my audio to "auto replay" mode, hit play, and repeat. Every little discrepency is really easy to hear, and allows you to synchronize your voice to the recording, until it's a perfect match. It's biofeedback, which is just awesome! I can usually make my voice match the recording perfectly after only a few reps. During those times, my pronunciation is native. This method is called chorusing.

Edited by leosmith on 07 April 2007 at 10:08pm

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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4859 days ago

2365 posts - 3803 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 30 of 90
07 April 2007 at 9:57pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
A good accent is nice, but it's not that important to me.

Then why don't you speak during Pimsleur? It has a rep for developing excellent pronunciation. I'm on lesson 2.24, and I'm very pleased with my Mandarin pronunciation. Chorusing the syllables for a couple weeks ahead of time probably helped a little, but man I like the results!
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reineke
Senior Member
United States
https://learnalangua
Joined 4756 days ago

851 posts - 1008 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 31 of 90
07 April 2007 at 10:05pm | IP Logged 
Hi leo

Do you have access to Chinese tv? A the end of Pimsleur III do you believe you'll be able to grasp the gist of a Chinese drama?

Thanks.
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leosmith
Senior Member
United States
Joined 4859 days ago

2365 posts - 3803 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 
 Message 32 of 90
07 April 2007 at 10:30pm | IP Logged 
reineke wrote:
Hi leo
Do you have access to Chinese tv? A the end of Pimsleur III do you believe you'll be able to grasp the gist of a Chinese drama?
Thanks.

Hi reineke,
No and no. Pimsleur only teaches about 500 vocab words. But from my experience with other languages, I could get some benefit from watching TV right now. In the first few hours, spread out over a week or two, I would be able to seperate words, and hear most of what I've learned in a broader spectrum, which is very good. But it's just too big of a step, or just not comprehensible enough, to learn a lot of vocab/grammar.

I really want to start watching Chinese TV before long, so I'll look into it. My next step is to get a tutor, and try to pick up about 2000 quick vocab. Then I'm going to see my friend get married in China, so I'll have some good practice.

Oh, but come to think of it, the first words I heard spoken in Chinese on TV since I began studying, I actually recognized. It was a western (Broken Trail), Chinese girls gathered around a grave, and I was thinking "I wonder if they'd say something like have a good journey in a case like this?" I about hit the ceiling when she said "yi2 lu4 shun4 feng1". :)



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