I decided to dedicate my research, for this particular wiki, toward Language Acquisition. As I intend to teach foreign languages, it is pertinent to my future in the classroom and, as I'm discovering, what information can be found on the subject is all fairly new. I'm excited to follow what seems to be a continuing evolution of understanding about how people learn new languages, whether it's a baby trying to grasp its first words or an individual trying to learn a second, third, or tenth language. My goal for this project is to find out how people learn language with respect to their age and apply that to whatever classroom in which I have the opportunity to work.

Five things I learned while researching for this wiki:

1. I had previously understood that our brains are better wired to develop with linguistics at a younger age. This is not exactly true. Older learners of new languages grasp syntax and morphology much faster than younger students (perhaps because the better understanding of their first language provides a certain kind of schema). However, younger students tended to develop a higher proficiency over all. Over-simplification: older students = faster; younger students = better (with time).

2. Written language is unnatural. While our brains are wired for oral communication, reading and writing requires a special learning and development to master.

3. Baby talk helps babies learn languages faster. Babies and toddlers actually respond better to the cooing and over-exaggerated inflections we pair with simplified sentences and phrases when talking to them, helping them latch on to language as a means of communication sooner.

4. Boredom and anxiety can be thought of as filters that block new words and concepts from reaching the proper part of the brain (the "language acquisition device" as named by Noam Chomsky). While it was no secret that boredom and anxiety don't help with any kind of education, the idea of them being a filter helps to drive home the importance of keeping language learners engaged. With personal experience as my witness, engagement requires extra effort when learning a new language (as opposed to learning history or math in your first language).

5. Students keeping with their culture of origin (including the 1st language) have been shown to produce better test scores and levels of aquisition in the 2nd language than students who assimilated.

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This is a great series of videos that offers a comprehensive explanation of language acquisition and some fairly in-depth analyses of how different facets of language acquisition are being studied. This series earned a spot on my wiki for two reasons: nerd factor and accessability. The nerd factor brings up why language, in and of itself, is so fascinating and shouldn't be taken for granted. This, in turn, leads the way for the the everyday Joe to have an interest in the the subject matter being explained. Also, the material is presented in a way that most adults could follow along and understand whether or not they have an educational background in linguistics (or an educational background at all, for that matter). This set of videos gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. The only reason the series doesn't get 5 stars is because it's so long, otherwise this would be my favorite resource, hands down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZatrvNDOiE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsaqD9FVRsM&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oimnxkEj4ns&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTbI-G42JoY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmsQJfyVrr0&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqs-jKSdj8Y&feature=related

If you only click on one resource on this wiki, click on this one. Geared toward teachers, this video explicitly outlines the stages of language acquisition as it applied to learners of English as a new language. It's very well organized and while I'd still recommend the above series of videos for full comprehension of the subject, this link is applicable and useful for any teacher with an English language learner in their classroom. 5 out of 5 stars for being comprehensive and applicable to the classroom.

http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=51369

One of the reasons language acquisition fascinates me is the research that has shown how learning two or more languages can improve cognitive ability. The how and the why are as yet unclear but this paper offers a few theories along with a strong argument for bilingual education. While this paper deals with a small part of what one might consider to be "language acquisition," it earned a spot on this wiki for its closing statement on the potential implications for educators and policy makers dealing with bilingual curriculum. This link gets 3 out of 5 stars. It's a good, succinct paper on the benefits of bilingualism and should be considered by anyone who might have to deal with a bilingual curriculum (be they educators or parents). The mid-level score is the result of the paper having little to do with the language acquisition in the broad sense. If my wiki were on linguistic relativism (theories dealing with the afore-mentioned how and why), this link would have a couple more stars.

http://www.enfant-encyclopedie.com/documents/Nicoladis-Charbonnier-PopescuANGxp.pdf

This slide show is about the socio-cultural factors that affect language acquisition, particularly English as a second or foreign language. I don't necessarily agree with all the theories presented but I think this is important information to be considered by teachers for the sake of understanding the perspective of any language learners they may have to teach. I'm also a sucker for anything that presents language as being as important in the realm of psychology and sociology as it is in studies of culture and linguistics. 4 out of 5 stars.

http://www.slideshare.net/drrubrico/sociocultural-factors-in-sla?src=related_normal&rel=405706#

I have heard of many people citing age as a deterrent in learning a new language. This is not the case and this slide show has the research and brain science to show it. Age is a factor to be considered, however. This presentation is on my wiki for its clarification of what factors are to be considered when teaching a new language to different age groups. There is little in this presentation that could be applied to the acquisition of any first language but for any educator teaching material in a language that is not the first language of his or her students, there is a lot of useful knowledge here to be applied. 3 out of 5 stars. A fourth or fifth star may have been earned with a presentation that was more accessible to those who are not linguistics nerds.

http://www.slideshare.net/bennells/age-and-second-language-acquisition

This an npr piece on baby-talk. It belongs on this wiki because it deals with the kind of language acquisition we all had to deal with at one point or another: the learning of our first language. For that, it gets 5 out of 5 stars. I also like how applicable this is to anyone who is or who will become a parent.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4556687

This piece is mostly on theory and hypotheses. While it is very informative and while each theory and hypothesis mentioned is worth studying, the is very dry and difficult to follow. Also, a lot of the points made could stand to be explained further than they were. 2 out of 5 stars for not being very much fun.

http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=101101&title=Chapter_2&vpkey

This next slide show may be a bit inaccessible for a lot of people but the information there is phenomenal. It goes over the importance of 1st language acquisition with respect to learning a second language. The development of conceptual ideas and abilities in the 1st language will transfer to the 2nd language making it easier to proceed further into more advanced levels of the second language. Essentially, it's important to continue developping the 1st language along with any other language being learned. This presentation also cites examples of research that indicated higher performance from those who followed their culture of origin (including language) as opposed to assimilating. For Spanish speakers, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Everyone else, this is the U.S. Learn Spanish.

http://www1.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=188339&title=Importance_of_First_Language_Development__Span_

This is an extremely simplified time-line of major bullet-points in the study of language over time. It's good for getting an idea of about where we are and where we were but there is a lot of information missing. It's still good for getting your bearings. 3 out of 5 stars.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5541370

Noam Chomsky says that all humans are wired for language in a similar way. Most languages deal with a sentence structure with subjects, objects, and verbs within similar tenses. the order in which they are arranged may be different but all the parts are pretty much there. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis says otherwise. This link gets 5 out of 5 stars for going over the theory that throws the gauntlet at the feet of Mr. Chomsky and for introducing the concept of linguistic relativism (an idea that makes my li'l heart go pitter-patter). The relation to language acquisition may be fairly vague, but imagine if either theory were provable and what that would mean for language learning education!! I posted this video in the hopes that it would make you think about how the language you use might affect your perception of the world around you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX-SIHqw66I