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Conference Information

Full Title: Second Language in the Brain Symposium: Instruction, Immersion, Interaction
Location: University of Greenwich, United Kingdom
Start Date: 04-Oct-2014 - 04-Oct-2014
Contact: Stefano Rastelli
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: The human brain undergoes both functional and anatomical changes to cope with the task of learning a second language in adulthood. Folk-science gurus and market-sellers have been advertising brain-compatible L2 teaching methods since the early eighties, when theories about lateralisation of language-related functions began to inspire the popular division of teaching-units between 'analytical' (left-centered) and 'creative-emotional' (right-centered) classroom activities. Since then, assuming that the learning brain must react in predictable ways to grammar drills or to 'singing along' has always appeared to many qualified teachers as the best way to provide their job with a scientific flavour.

In this symposium, we would like to ask three basic questions: Is teaching useful (whether explicit or implicit)? Does language immersion and naturalistic exposure really make a difference? Does the kind of spoken interaction among native and non-native speakers count for language acquisition?

The novelty of the current symposium does not lie in the questions, but in the kind of answer: complex and experimentally-grounded answers only will be provided. Indeed, it has only been quite recently that ERPs and neuroimaging techniques have been used to explore the impact that some environmental factors may have on changes in the brain occurring during second language acquisition. The symposium focuses on three of these environmental factors:

(a) classroom instruction
(b) interaction among native and nonnative speakers
(c) immersion and everyday life in the country where the second language is spoken.

Research questions to be addressed in the symposium include the following: Are there visible brain signatures of increasing proficiency in the second language? Are different memory systems (declarative vs. procedural) involved in a different way in uninstructed and in instructed second language acquisition? How does an adult learner's brain accommodate (if it does) to the typical activities of a language classroom setting such as structured or enhanced input, drills, repetitions and so forth? Are there brain modifications which can be directly or indirectly linked to the fact that the second language is used and practiced outside the class in everyday life? Is it likely that feedback (in any of its forms) and interaction with native speakers modify the quality of Second Language Acquisition in ways that are detectable in brain activity patterns?

The symposium brings together neurolinguists who have been leading research on these topics since the late Nineties and theoretical & developmental linguists who are known worldwide for their research in the field of SLA.
Linguistic Subfield: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science; Language Acquisition; Neurolinguistics; Psycholinguistics
LL Issue: 25.2441

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