Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Second language learners recall native language when reading

02.06.2010
Brain research suggests Chinese-speaking adults reading English recall the sound of Chinese translations

Adults fluent in English whose first language is Chinese retrieve their native language when reading in English, according to new research in the June 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. This study suggests that people who learn a second language in adolescence or later recall the sounds of words from their native language.

The scientists who conducted the study, Yan Jing Wu, PhD, and Guillaume Thierry, PhD, of Bangor University in the United Kingdom, said their work helps researchers understand how the brain manages symbols and sounds in different languages. Thierry explained that although most bilingual people believe they function solely in one language at any given time, these findings show that it is not necessarily the case.

"Bilingual individuals retrieve information from their native language even when it's not necessary, or, even more surprising, when it is counterproductive, since native language information does not help when reading or listening to second-language words," Thierry said.

To learn how two languages interact in a bilingual mind, the authors asked 90 volunteers — 30 native Chinese speakers, 30 native English speakers, and 30 Chinese-English bilingual adults who learned English after age 12 — to perform a reading and a listening test. The English-speaking volunteers had to decide whether pairs of English words had similar meanings, such as "doctor" and "nurse" or "teacher" and "rabbit." The authors recorded brain activity from electrodes placed on participants' scalps to monitor how their brains responded.

What the authors didn't tell volunteers was that some English words had the same sounds or similar spelling when translated into Chinese. The results showed the bilingual adults responded to words with related meaning as quickly as native English speakers. However, when English words translated into Chinese had similar sounds and were presented to the bilingual volunteers, a specific wave of brain activity called the N400 changed. This suggests that the Chinese language words were being accessed. For example, the unrelated English word pair "experience" and "surprise" translates to "jing yan" and "jing ya."

Michael Chee, MBBS, of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, who was unaffiliated with the study, said the findings show that even though people who learn a second language later in life are discouraged from directly translating words from their native language, they may be doing so anyway.

"One limitation of the study is that many older generation English learners from China learned English by memorizing lists of words in what seems like a brute force method of learning," Chee said. "It would be interesting to see if the same results would be obtained if persons learning English earlier were studied."

The research was supported by the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council and the European Research Council.

The Journal of Neuroscience is published by the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of more than 40,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. Wu can be reached at yanjing@bangor.ac.uk and Thierry can be reached at g.thierry@bangor.ac.uk.

Kat Snodgrass | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.sfn.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Antarctic Ice Sheet mass loss has increased
14.06.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Creating a new composite fuel for new-generation fast reactors

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Game-changing finding pushes 3D-printing to the molecular limit

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Could this material enable autonomous vehicles to come to market sooner?

20.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>