Free thoughts on language learning

Discussions on learning Spanish, English and other language issues. Occasionally, we may stray from language learning topics if there is something that catches my interest.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Secrets of Human Language Acquisition


The sleuths at Parlo.com have uncovered exciting research looking into how people learn language naturally as infants. Let's be honest, it's tough even with books, tapes, grammar and vocabulary lessons! But babies can't read and even get themselves to a computer to study with parlo or berlitz. How do the little critters do it? If you think about it this is truly amazing. This is precisely the question being addressed by Associate Professor Deb Roy, head of the MIT Media Lab's Cognitive Machines research group. His "volunteer research subject" is his 9 month old son and, not coincidentally his wife and himself. They have mounted 11 omni-directional fisheye video cameras and 14 ceiling mounted microphones throughout his home in an attempt to determine the environmental factors, both physical and social, within which his son will learn vocabulary and grammatical strucutre. Whew! Talk about a reality show. We'll try to keep an eye (not a fisheye) on the progress and results of this research to see what, if any, light this might shed on adult language acquisition. (I suspect it's the pureed carrots that enable language acquisition but so far no one will join me in this belief) In the meantime I urge you to read this article from MIT's site.

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