Language development is similar to muscular development

Published on May 11, 2009









サイモン・ダウンズ  (翻訳:市瀬愛)

Hi, readers.

Recently, a mother asked whether the time and effort she had spent teaching English to her child would be lost if she had to stop for a while.

We have seen in the research literature that early exposure to a foreign language increases the possibility that the child will later develop a higher level of proficiency in that language, and that a child’s attitude towards that language will be more positive.

From our experience, however, we know that it is difficult to learn a new language. When we stop learning and using a second language, we gradually become less proficient in that language. Yet, if we begin learning and using that language again, we regain our skills quite quickly.

To simplify the reason for this, we might say that the brain has stored the “potential” for using that language again.

In muscular development, we notice a similar pattern. While a great deal of effort and nutrition is needed in order to build a muscle, when we stop using it, the muscle shrinks. However, when we begin using it again, the muscle quickly regains it’s original size. The muscle has a “memory” of its original size.

Perhaps we can say that language ability and muscular development are similar in their ability to build, and to regain their original strength.

When we think of all the positive effects of second language learning, it seems reasonable to conclude that no language education is wasted.

Simon Downes

    1. mic May 17, 2009

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