ENG505 Language Learning Theories GDB No 01 Fall 2020 Solution / Discussion
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ENG505 GDB 1 Fall 2020 Solution:
What are some of the challenges that you faced in studying language learning theories (ENG505) course?
Many of these theories initially came about as a result of what is called “armchair psychology”; that is, sitting and thinking about a problem. It is extremely difficult to collect
objective and accurate data on what’s going on in the brain in terms of its direct relationship to a behavior such as language. That said, some computational models of language acquisition have been gaining traction in the past several decades. A computational model is a mathematical way to recreate complicated systems we see everyday; from how water flows in a river, to how children learn languages. The model is built to represent the way we think something happens. For example, in the model of the learning theory approach, a word would be learned faster if it came up a lot or the subject received a lot of input about it. Then, linguists change how different variables work to see what affect that would have on the system. If the model behaves and “learns” the same way that we do, it’s a good sign that the model is on the right track. These models have helped to identify and measure linguistical features such as the critical period for language learning, the vocabulary burst, and the U-shaped learning mentioned earlier.
New brain imaging technology, such as MRIs and fMRIs have also allowed scientists to look at the brains of children and patients with language-acquisition disorders to understand this complicated event. An fMRI can track where and when our brains use energy. If a certain part of your brain lights up while you’re learning a language, that part of your brain is using energy, and in this context might be related to language-acquisition. Of course we learn over time and not all at once, so there is a limit to what we can learn via imaging which represents the brain in a single moment.
While we still have a ways to go before we completely understand how we learn a language, we definitely know enough to know that it’s a pretty incredible feat. So give yourself a welldeserved pat on the back and just remember that the phrase “it’s so easy, a child could do it!” doesn’t always apply.ENG505 GDB 1 Fall 2020