Document Type: Original Article

Author

Malayer University, Iran

Abstract

This paper summarizes the educational implications of current research on cognitive neuroscience for foreign-language learning to provide an overview of myths and realities in this appealing area of research. Although the potential benefits of neuroscientific research into language acquisition are great, there are a number of popular myths that none of which are supported by scientific evidence. In this paper, three prominent examples of these myths are introduced and discussed how they are based on misinterpretation and misapplication from neuroscience research. The first pervasive example of such misconception is the prevalent belief of being the certain critical periods for learning a second language. It implies that the opportunity to acquire foreign languages is lost forever by missing these biological windows. In fact, however, extensive research shows that there are sensitive periods, but not critical periods, during which an individual can acquire certain aspects of language with greater ease than at other times. Another example of myths is a false conclusion implies that exposing children to a foreign language too early interrupts knowledge of their first language. The reality is that learning a second language not only improves language abilities in the first language, but also positively affects reading abilities and general literacy in school. Like the other myths, there is also a popular conception about ability to learn second language during sleep. It is demonstrated that previously acquired memories are consolidated and new association are learned during sleep, but learning a foreign language requires conscious effort and available data do not support this hypothesis that second language acquire during sleep. The main conclusion arising from this argument is that, while our understanding of the neural bases of language learning is continually evolving, our interpretation of the implications of these findings for foreign language teaching and learning should also continually evolve.

Keywords

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