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考研英語時文賞讀(83):為什么孩子更容易學會一門語言?

  摘要:考研英語作為一門考研公共課,雖然大家都學了英語十幾年,卻仍經常有總分過線掛在英語上的情況,因此英語復習不單單是單詞、做題。閱讀作為考研英語的大頭,僅僅做考研真題或許沒法滿足你的閱讀量,因此幫幫之后會不定時推出一篇英文美文,這些文章都與考研英語閱讀同源,多讀必有好處。

  Why kids learn languages more easily than you do

  為什么孩子比大人更容易學會一門語言

  Learning a second language is tricky at any age (and it only gets tougher the longer you wait to crack open that dusty French book). Now, in a new study, scientists have pinpointed the exact age at which your chances of reaching fluency in a second language seem to plummet: 10.

  二語習得對任何年齡段的人來說都不容易(而且,你在打開那本已經積滿灰塵的法語書上拖延的時間越長越困難)。現在,科學家們在一項新的研究中精確地指出了二語習得時,你有機會達到流利水平的確切年齡分水嶺:10歲。

  The study, published in the journal Cognition, found that it's "nearly impossible" for language learners to reach native-level fluency if they start learning a second tongue after 10. But that doesn't seem to be because language skills go downhill.

  這篇發表在《認知》上的研究發現,如果語言學習者從10歲以后才開始學,那他想要達到母語水平的流利程度“幾乎是不可能的”。盡管這似乎并不是因為過了這個年齡語言技能就會下降造成的。

  It turns out you're still learning fast," says study co-author Joshua Hartshorne, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College. "It's just that you run out of time, because your ability to learn starts dropping at around 17 or 18 years old."

  該研究報告的聯名作者、波士頓學院心理學助理教授喬舒亞·哈特肖恩說:“事實上,你還是能學得很快,問題在于這時候你的時間已經不多了,因為到了17~18歲左右,人的學習能力就會開始下降。”

  People who start a few years after age 10 may still become quite good at a language, the authors say, but they are unlikely to become fluent. Kids may be better than adults at learning new languages for many reasons.

  論文指出,雖然那些剛過10歲不久就開始學的孩子還是可能掌握地很好,但已經不太可能達到完全流利的水平了。孩子比成年人更容易掌握新的語言,這背后可能有諸多原因。

  Children’s brains are more plastic than those of adults, meaning they’re better able to adapt and respond to new information. “All learning involves the brain changing,” Hartshorne says, “and children’s brains seem to be a lot more adept at changing.”

  孩子的大腦有著比成年人的大腦更強的可塑性,也就是說,他們適應新信息并做出反饋的能力更強。哈特肖恩說:“所有學習都跟大腦的改變有關,而孩子的大腦對改變的適應能力似乎比成年人強得多。”

  Kids may also be more willing to try new things (and to potentially look foolish in the process) than adults are. Their comparatively new grasp on their native tongue may also be advantageous.

  孩子嘗試新事物的意愿(在具體過程中可能會表現得比較傻)也比成年人更強。因為距離習得母語的時間相對較短,因此在這方面或許也有一定的優勢。

  Unlike adults, who tend to default to the rules and patterns of their first language, kids may be able to approach a new one with a blank slate. These indings may seem discouraging, but it was heartening for scientists to learn that the critical period for fluent language acquisition might be longer than they previously thought.

  不同于大人,大人通常會沿用母語的規則和模式,孩子則可能以空白的姿態采用全新的方式學習新的語言。盡管看似有些讓人泄氣,但讓人欣慰的是,科學家們發現,語言習得的關鍵時期可能比他們之前認為的要長。

  Some scientists believed that the brief window closes shortly after birth, while others stretched it only to early adolescence. Compared to those estimates, 17 or 18 — when language learning ability starts to drop off — seems relatively old.

  一些科學家認為短暫的語言學習窗口在出生后不久就會關閉,另一些科學家則認為這一窗口能持續到青春期早期。與那些估計相比,17,18歲——也就是語言學習能力開始下降的時候——似乎已經是很大的年齡了。

  For the study, the researchers created an online quiz promising to guess people's native language, dialect and home country based on their responses to English grammar questions.

  在這項研究中,研究人員設計了一個根據大家對英語語法問題的回答,來猜測大家的母語、方言和母國的在線測試。

  At the end of the quiz, people entered their actual native language, if and when they had learned any others and where they had lived. The quiz went viral: almost 670,000 people took it, giving the researchers huge amounts of data from English speakers of many ages and backgrounds.

  測試時,大家需在測試末尾輸入他們實際的母語,是否學過、何時學過其他語言以及他們在哪些地方居住過。后來,這項測試迅速傳開:近67萬人都參加了測試,為研究人員提供了不同年齡,不同背景的英語使用者的海量數據。

  Analyzing the responses and grammar mistakes allowed them to draw unusually precise conclusions about language learning. The findings also offer insights for adults hoping to pick up a new tongue. People fared better when they learned by immersion, rather than simply in a classroom.

  通過分析大家的回答及其中的語法錯誤,研究者們得出了異常精確的有關語言習得的結論。這些發現也為那些希望學習新語言的成年人提供了很多真知灼見。浸入式學習的效果比僅僅在教室里學習的效果更好。

  And moving to a place where your desired language is spoken is the best way to learn as an adult, says Hartshorne.

  成年人學外語的時候,最好的學習方法就是搬到使用你想學的語言的地方去,哈特肖恩說道。

  If that's not an option, you can mimic an immersive environment by finding ways to have conversations with native speakers in their own communities, Hartshorne says. By doing so, it's possible to become conversationally proficient—even without the advantage of a child's brain.

  如果這點不在選擇范圍之內的話,也可以通過想辦法在自己所在的地方和該語言的母語人士交流模擬一個浸入式的語言學習環境,哈特肖恩說道。這樣一來,即便沒有兒童大腦的優勢,也能達到熟練對話的水平。

  (全文共542個詞,時代周刊)

  ?重難點詞匯:

  tricky  adj. 狡猾的;機警的;棘手的

  pinpoint  vt. 查明;精確地找到;準確描述 adj. 精確的;詳盡的 n. 針尖;精確位置;極小之物

  plummet  n. 鉛錘,墜子 vi. 垂直落下;(價格、水平等)驟然下跌

  tongue  n. 舌頭;語言 vt. 舔;斥責;用舌吹 vi. 說話;吹管樂器

  adept  adj. 熟練的;擅長…的 n. 內行;能手

  discourage  vt. 阻止;使氣餒

  dialect  n. 方言,土話;同源語;行話;個人用語特征 adj. 方言的

  immersion  n. 沉浸;陷入;專心

  mimic  vt. 模仿,摹擬 n. 效顰者,模仿者;仿制品;小丑 adj. 模仿的,模擬的;假裝的

  ?幫幫提示:考研英語同源外刊美文賞讀匯總

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