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The Cognitive Advantages of Bilingualism

In the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Wittgenstein wrote, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” This is one of the few things he wrote that I can understand, but starting with a quote from Wittgenstein is impressive, no? Language teachers, I suppose, would agree with this premise. If our worlds are limited by […]

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            I’ve been told that my posts are too long and too academic. It has taken awhile, but I’m starting to get it. This will be shorter and sweeter.              The biggest cause of communication breakdowns when two non-native speakers communicate in English is mispronounced or misunderstood phonemes. This claim […]

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It happens all the time. I say learners can learn the difficult sounds of English through exposure to video clips, and someone argues they can’t and cite a study by Patricia Kuhl. It is an all too common misunderstanding. In the study referred to, 9-month old American infants were exposed to native Mandarin Chinese speakers […]

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Phonemic awareness (PA) is the ability to perceive and manipulate the sounds of a language. Yeong & Rickard-Liow (2012) define it as the ability to segment words into constituting sounds and to blend these sounds to form new words. This type of awareness requires the recognition of phonemes, which are the smallest unit of language […]

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I ended my last post with a quote from Dr. Usha Goswami, the Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at Cambridge University:       …the way in which the brain represents the sound-structure of spoken language -phonology-     is critical for the future development of literacy. The brain develops phonological   […]

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This is the second post regarding the question: Do People Read Different Writing Systems Differently?   In my last post, I pointed out that there are two ways to look at the question of whether people read different writing systems differently. Of course, there are more nuanced ways, but these seem to be the two […]

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A reader recently told me my posts are “a bit academic.” It was stated kindly enough, but I took it as “a bit” of negative criticism. I can’t argue, though, my posts are sort of academic – for good reasons. The first is that I am not a gifted writer. Eloquence doesn’t flow from my […]

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Pronunciation Instruction: Forgotten? It has been suggested that pronunciation is the forgotten orphan of language teaching (Gilbert, 2010). This is odd, isn’t it? Pronunciation is what people notice most when speaking to a non-native speaker of any language. An L2 speaker can live without perfect grammar. If she cannot say something grammatically complex, she can […]

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The Importance of Phonemes in ELF (English as a Lingua Franca)   Back in graduate school, way back in graduate school, I learned of the importance of supra-segmentals. The idea was that supra-segmental features, things like stress, rhythm, and intonation, are more important for improved intelligibility than segmentals, the individual phonemes. It made sense and […]

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Phonemic Awareness and Word Learning My earlier posts give an overview of the research in phoneme acquisition and discuss the best way to teach phonemic awareness. I believe these posts offer a basic understanding of the what and the how of phonemic training. My next posts will focus on the why. They will answer the […]

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