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Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

Non-linguistic limitations

The lack of language affects even functions like math. Keeping track of exact numbers above four requires knowing the words for these numbers. The language-number interdependency means many deaf children in industrialized societies fall behind in math because they did not learn to count.

Social cognition is another part of your mind that needs language to develop. Why is your mom upset? Understanding social situations requires inferring what people around you are thinking.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

Language Is the Scaffold of the Mind

http://nautil.us/issue/76/language/language-is-the-scaffold-of-the-mind

nautil.us

5

Key Ideas

A mind without language

It isn't easy to imagine our mind without language. We can't think, plan, or relate to other people if we lack words to structure our ideas.

Bertrand Russel stated that the task of language is to "make possible thoughts which could not exist without it."

Language and acquiring information

Take language away, and the amount of information you can acquire decreases.

Many deaf children born into hearing families live in a world unable to communicate properly. They are never exposed to abstract ideas such as "justice" or "global warming." Unless the parents learn sign language, the child's language access will be delayed or missing entirely.

Non-linguistic limitations

The lack of language affects even functions like math. Keeping track of exact numbers above four requires knowing the words for these numbers. The language-number interdependency means many deaf children in industrialized societies fall behind in math because they did not learn to count.

Social cognition is another part of your mind that needs language to develop. Why is your mom upset? Understanding social situations requires inferring what people around you are thinking.

Adult individuals with aphasia

Language can disappear after severe damage to the brain. It is known as aphasia - the inability to understand or produce speech.

Research on adults with aphasia has demonstrated that math, theory of mind, and other cognitive abilities are independent from language. Patients with aphasia perform comparably to the rest of us when asked to complete arithmetic tasks, reason about people's intentions, determine physical causes of actions, or decide whether a drawing represents a real-life event. Some can continue with creative tasks.

Our language is a scaffold

In adults, language is separate from other functions of the brain.

Our language is but a scaffold for our minds. It is indispensable during the formative years but can be done away with once the building is in place.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Know your motivation

If you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.

Once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.

Find a partner

Finding some kind of partner on your language adventure will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay with it.

It’s a really great way of actually going about it. You have someone with whom you can speak, and that’s the idea behind learning a new language.

Talk to yourself

When you have no one else to speak to, there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself in a foreign language.

This can keep new words and phrases fresh in your mind. It also helps build up your confidence for the next time you speak with someone.

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Listen

The more you expose yourself to the new language, the sooner you will become familiar with its sounds and structures. Familiarity, in turn, will speed understanding.

Copy

Repeating the sounds (out loud or in your head) will give you a feel for the language. Memorize not just words, but sentences and even songs to get the rhythm and intonation of the language. 

Read

Read words, sentences, children’s books, newspaper articles. Read as far and near as you can, whether out loud to an audience or quietly to yourself. 

Seeing the language in print helps you understand word structures. It also anchors the new sounds, and helps them get imprinted in your mind.

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Learning a second language

Research shows that children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly ten years later than earlier estimates. It also shows that it is best to start another lang...

The decline in language learning

There are three possible reasons why the ability to learn a language decreases at 18.

  • Social changes: At 18, late teens typically graduate high school and may no longer have the time, opportunity or learning environment to study a second language.
  • Interference: The rules of a first language may interfere with the ability to learn a second language.
  • Continuing brain development: Changes in the brain that continue during the late teens and early 20s may make learning harder.

Learning a new language

There are many examples of people who pick up a language later in life. Our ability to learn new vocabulary appears to remain constant, but most of us will not be able to master grammar like a native speaker.

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