02 July 2008

It's Official, I'm a Nerd.

Language.

So much more than words put together into sentences, which in turn formulate paragraphs. In my homework on Monday, I read that individuals experience the world through perception. Communities experience through language.

So here I am, in the mountains of NorthCarolina, learning how to learn a second (and third) language. Children are the best language learners in the world. They listen for months before they attempt to mimic our sounds. They understand long before they verbally communicate. Children are playful and uninhibited. They explore and interact with their environment in order to learn. As little people, they are not afraid of making mistakes and are very forgiving.

Adults on the other hand back translate and speak without learning to listen. We have been programed to retain and regurgitate, not absorb and apply. This is what language acquisition training is all about. Unlearning what doesn't work (but comes naturally) and replacing those unprofitable habits with new techniques that really work.

For example:

Aujourd'hui, la femme a monté le bus à l'église (today, the woman rides the bus to church)
Each picture represents a word or concept and together they make a sentence. I'm actually learning all of this in Bulgarian.
Phonetics has been rather fun as well. Did you know that language is broken down into vowels and consonants (I know, that's the easy one), and that consonants are further broken down into nasals and orals, voiced and unvoiced, stops and fricitives? And there are fourteen locations in the mouth where words are formed (ie: bilabial, labiodental, interdental, dental, alveolar, alveolar retroflexed . . . glottal)!!
Did you know that "buh" is a voiced bilabial sound?? Whereas "puh" is an unvoiced bilabial, and "muh" is a voiced bilabial nasal sound. (Well you do now!!) Want to keep going?? Okay: "fuh" is a voiceless labiodental, whereas "vuh" is a voiced labiodental. Then there's the exercises. Nothing like forcing the mouth to make sounds it's never had to make before!
So that's the latest on language acquisition training (dynamic, I know!).

2 comments:

Megan Schell said...

Thanks for sharing!!

Jacqueline said...

Sounds like you are in my phonetics class in undergrad! You can always ask your friendly speech pathologist for help with this