How can we learn a second language easily at any age? by Monica

How can we learn a second language easily at any age? 

JSPS funded project spearheaded by Monica Barbir

Learning a second language as an adult is difficult! Often, when we start learning language when we are older, we may have trouble hearing the difference between r and l or we may forget to put an ‘s’ at the end of a third-person form verb (*‘He eat’). No matter how many years we spend learning the language, we may not be able to speak perfect. This is called the ‘critical period effect’: after a certain age it become hard to learn a language perfectly.

As a result, more and more parents are introducing second language learning early in their child’s development. However, it isn’t just the age when you start to speak a language that is essential. Language learning is about having meaningful interactions with people and the world (Kotoboo link).

This project series investigates whether there is a way to overcome the critical period effect. In this series, children and adults play different kinds of video games that teach them the Martian language. The goal of the studies is to find out what kinds of games are the most helpful to teach language.

We ran one study in the Miraikan and another is currently being run in high schools across Japan. A big thank you to all who have, are and will participate. Stay tuned to this page for results!