Hi everyone, welcome to our week five office hours, hopefully by now you know who we are. I'm Mia and this is doctor Hernandez, and he's here to answer some of the questions that we found in the forum. So the first one has to do with the differences, in learning between children and adults and whether children learn faster than adults. >> That's a, a really good question and, in fact, the literature's found that, for the most part, adults seem to outperform children, initially. And you might say, well, why is that? Because everyone says, oh, it's, you know, children are like sponges, they can learn so quickly and, and, you know, they don't have an accent. And it's so easy for them, and I think the question is, initially at least, so let's take for example Mya wants to today teach me the conjugations of the verb. >> Okay she wants to teach me that today, so we won't put you through her trying to teach me that. Right? But from what I understand, Mya's explained to me is that it's much like Spanish, there conjugations essentially for person whether it's, first, second or third person I, you or he and in plural. Right? We you plural, which doesn't exist in English, except old English which is ye, or y'all if here in the southern United States. Or you guys if you're anywhere else. And then of course they, so if she had to teach me all these conjugations then I could basically memorize them somehow, and I would learn these conjugations and I would go through a class where I would learn all these conjugations. And I would be able to repeat them back somewhat well, or write them on a piece of paper and then I could pass a test. And if you asked a child to do that, they would have great difficulty in learning those conjugations. So I have tricks up my sleeve that I can use as an adult, to allow me to learn these conjugations very quickly, for a child they don't have as many tricks up their sleeves so they're going to in fact take longer to do that. So initially adults are actually advantaged. But of course we think in the long run what happens, and the fact children have more plasticity that they're not as good learners. In the long run, allows them to learn language in a different way, in the way that's, if you want to say more naturalistic, and that will advantage them over time if they're continually exposed to that language. But again we're talking about in the short term whether children are advantaged over adults. Over time most children with continued exposure, will outperform adults as they get older in terms of learning. But again it depends on what time frame we're talking about. >> Mm-hm. I see and since we touched on that a little bit just now. Can we talk about different teaching methods, are some more appropriate for children, some more appropriate for adults? What do you think about that? >> Well, I mean, I think one of the really interesting and complicated questions to address is what I call learning styles, which other people have called cognitive styles in the literature, which is that people are different. Right? And they have different ways of conceptualizing the world. We can argue and think about whether that has something to do with them, you know, their, is it innate? Is that their style of learning? I mean obviously, these things are a little bit tricky to answer, and we'll get on to the trickier part of that in a bit, but the point is people are different. And, if we think about the fact that they're different and that they take in information slightly differently, or they prefer certain ty, information to be given to them in certain types of forms. Then it would make sense that we would want to tailor that. Right? That we want to have, and take that into account, for how children might learn and how they may differ. Now imagine you take this child that's slightly different, and then over time, not only do they seek out environments that, they prefer. But the environment also influences them, because they can't just seek out the environments they prefer. They also have school, they have parents and each one is going to expose them to an environment that's different than they may prefer, but in the same time they will seek out and change that environment, to suit them and their particular learning style. So you have this very interactive effect happening over time, and now they're adults. So they've not only had, sort of a slightly different path if you will, of learning. But now they've gone down that path over time, and so now they're really different. >> Mm-hm. >> And so, again, you do see these individual styles and that fact that that could influence it and yes, we should take that into account. >> Mm-hm. So basically, if you're going to start learning a language, it might be good to kind of find out what kind of learner you are, how you learn. >> I mean, I think that's true, I think the tricky part for any teacher or anybody, any school that wants to take in all these individuals is you're going to there's going to be a lot of variability. And so, you want some part to be tailored for the individual learner, but at the same time we know that there's things that work for everyone. So if you want to teach me the word tree in Hebrew now, today's my Hebrew lesson, so the word tree? [INAUDIBLE]. >> Okay so I want to learn that and so so I'm going to learn that, and there are two ways I could learn that I could just learn ETS. >> Mm-hm. >> I could just learn ETS, and say ETS tree. Right? And I could sit there and go ETS tree for you know, I don't know half an hour or something, I have nothing else to do but do that. Right? So that's my only job is to learn this work and, and of course what will happen is that I could burn it into my memory and learn it, and that would require a lot of brute force. Or I could imagine that actually it's sort of an interesting view is that I, I, I'm at a tree and I'm biting its bark and eating it, and so then I remember it as tree. And I have this very vivid image of myself actually, taking a piece of bark and chewing on it. And so now I have this very rich connection between tree and, and this new word ets. And so now it's, and it sounds like eats to right, so ets, eats, you know, tree, right. [LAUGH] So I have this very vivid image now, and I'll never forget that, probably I can remember that for the rest of my life, because it's such a vivid image. So if you do deep processing, and we know that that really helps with learning. >> Mm. >> This kind of surface processing, where I just learn, it's a tree, is likely to just go sort of, you know, in one ear and out the other I just won't be able to hang on it. So we do know that there's some things that work for everyone, which is deep processing. >> Mm-hm. >> And that's one of the tricky things is, do we try to do an individual type of tailoring of this learning, or do we do deep processing that we know is going to work? I think education tends to do deep processing, because it works for everyone. The question is, you know, what are the pieces you need to learn? At what depth, how can you learn them, how can you get them to stay there permanently? Mm-hm. >> So, again, a complicated question, but I think an interesting one. I, I would say you would probably need a little bit of something tailored for you, and then something tailored for everyone, that would probably be the ideal approach. >> Mm-hm. And I think everybody now will always remember that ETS means tree in Hebrew, because they can all imagine you just next to a tree chewing on the bark. >> Right. >> That's a pretty vivid image in my head right now, so. >> I had the taste too. [LAUGH]. >> So it's actually a little more vivid for me but yes, you won't forget that. But I mean, the other thing we can think about, too, is, is sometimes what's interesting is that people have this, there's this literature now on desirable difficulties. And this idea that if you actually make things harder, people remember better than if you make it easier, with the idea that, again, harder requires deeper processing. So, you could also imagine that, let's say, I prefer, you know, and again there's been a lot of debate about this literature of you know, am I a visual learner, a auditory learner. >> Mm-hm. >> One of my colleagues suggests that's not true, that's actually a fallacy and that matters is depth of processing. And let's just say that I prefer auditory learning, I think I'm an auditory learner. And so I prefer auditory learning. Well, what's, someone could say, well that's great. You prefer it but you're going to do more surface type of processing, when you do auditory processing. So let's put it for you in a way that you think you don't like. Turns out that if you do that, I might actually remember better, because I've kind of had to struggle. I'm not a visual learner enough thinking about this so I'm making it harder for myself. Uh,because I'm not a visual learner, and I don't think I'm a visual learner. And I'm having to do this in the visual domain, this is really hard. And then, afterwards, I actually remember better. [LAUGH]. >> So you know, it's a very tricky thing to think about how to tailor it, for whatever style you want. I think you'd want to do that at the same time, there's evidence suggesting that if you actually go against what you preferred. You may actually remember it better, so, again a mix, I think is probably what makes the most sense. You don't want to be tortured all the time, because then you're going to stop doing it. At the same time you don't want to just cruise all the time because then you're just going to tune out, so you probably want both. >> All right well hopefully that helps answer some of you guys' questions about that. So our next question has to, has to do with universal grammar, and it's actually a response to a previous video that we recorded. So this person says that there is evidence for a universal grammar, where children show that they know grammatical rules that they haven't really been exposed to very very much. Would you be able to comment on this idea of universal grammar, or this kind of innate linguistic structure? >> Yeah, I mean, that's a really good question, one that I think is a comp, has a very complex answer. And if you really want to get a sense of what I think a good way to address the complexity of the issue, I would recommend that people read a book called Rethinking Innateness co-written by Jeff Elm and Elizabeth Bates, Mark Johnson, and Annette Karmiloff-Smith and Kim Plunkett I don't know if I got all the authors there and there was one more. There's one more author, so it's several authors that essentially co-wrote a book. And what they wanted to do, was to try to get at what the issue of innateness is. And in fact, Mark Johnson, a very well-know developmental cognitive neuroscientist, argued that we shouldn't even use a the word. That innateness makes no sense, but, but let's think about what we might consider to be innateness, and, and they go through various definitions in this book of what, what it could be, but I, I think what we could think about is, well, do you want to consider innateness something that starts at conception. Right? And then develops from conception is somehow regulated by biological mechanisms, because I think we can agree that if we want to talk about something being innate, at least as a developmental common neuroscientist myself, I want to think about what's the biological mechanism behind it? If you want to think about it that way, well then it gets very difficult to find anything, because we know that the womb environment is actually an environment. I mean, fetuses can actually recognize, I mean at least the data suggests that they can recognize, their mother's voices before they're born. So, even though there isn't the same environment there, that you would get outside. There is still sound, right, that comes in. And there is sensory stimulation. There is movement, we know fetuses move. And you might say why would they move? They don't really need to move. Why not just lay in there, you know, chill out? Well, because they're going to have to use all of these muscles and all of this movement it's going to, it's part, it's a, a very important part of development. And, so, they need to move, they actually need to move. >> Mm. >> Before birth. So, this womb environment exists for nine months. It's, it's again, it has an environment. It's, it's influenced by the outside. We know it's influenced by what the mother eats, pollution, teratogens all these things play a role. smoking, I mean, good things and bad things, if you want to think about it that way. And so certainly we know that this is an environment. Right? So we've had nine months, before birth. And then you have birth, which people consider the zero point. And then what we see as observable, more easily observable development. So you have all these changes happening over time. And now the question is, you have a child who knows a rule but hasn't ever been exposed to it. And so the example I like to take is, well let's take something like subject, verb, object. Right? So, right, this car moves I'll take the car, and there's a block. Right? And the car goes like this and the block moves. We can do it this way if you want. Right? Whichever way you'd like to do it. And now the question is, well now you have the concept of subject verb object. One thing moved, it hit another thing, and the other thing moved. Right? And that gives you a scaffold, on which to start to build grammar. We can also think about people who've looked at sort of phonological basis of grammar and, and, and how you parse up words. So for example, I think I've answered this pretty sure I've said this in another situation here for office hours. If you look at Spanish and you compare it to English, you can see the Spanish will devout, divide their chunks into three syllables versus two, enough for a gender marked article, and the noun. In English it'll be two, enough for basically a noun, essentially, maybe je, maybe the article and noun, but again, it's not quite as strongly linked because the noun itself, right, doesn't really have gender on it. >> Mm-hm. >> Not grammatical gender. So if you take these little pieces, things from the conceptual world. Things from the phonological world, speech sounds. And now you put them together into a child, during the first year of life. It's possible that they will have what they need, to understand a grammatical rule. Because a grammatical rule is actually built on things that have to do with it's built upon a base that if you want, has to do with interaction in the world. So, again we can think about what it means for something to be innate. >> Right. >> And how a child could know a rule before they're actually exposed to it, and that's because they know all these different things, that allow them to understand it. >> Mm-hm. >> And so it appears like magic. And again, we have to document exactly what they know, how these rules are put together. I think again if we want to talk about the innateness part of it, I think it's very tricky to talk about, because there's so many moving parts. >> Right. >> So to me the interesting question is, what are all those moving parts and how do they get put together? And then at what point are they constrained. >> Mm-hm. So like there isn't a grammar genie, or a grammar area of the brain that is specifically responsible for grammar. >> I mean, as far as we know, the genetic basis we know, we do know that there are families that have difficulty acquiring language, but again, they have difficulty with non-verbal cognition as well. We know it's a combination of genes, we know it's a complex set of computations that are going to involve multiple areas of the brain. There's more and more discussion now about the under estimation of the fact that the right hemisphere contributes lots to language. Everybody's thinking there's a left hemisphere, that's based on damage and all sorts of other things. Now there's more and more evidence that the right hemisphere, contributes a lot. [INAUDIBLE] In fact it's multiple brain areas. So when you talk about something that complex, I think it's very difficult to establish it's innate. The places where you can talk about it, I think clearly are things like face recognition. We know that newborns, can track a face at birth. And I think there you're much more likely to look at the genetics, obviously they're no mirrors in the womb. >> Hm. >> You can't see a face, I think you're much more able to look at the genetics and sort of think about this biologically. I think for language it becomes very difficult, coz there's so many moving parts. >> Hm. >> That doesn't mean we are not, we don't have something that allows us to learn language, but what that something is I think is, is the subject of a lot of discussion in the literature. >> All right, so let's move on to the last discussion that we have, this week, and this person describes Sir Richand, Sir Richard Francis Burton, who was what we call a hyperpolyglot, so he learned a ton of different languages. And he actually describes a situation in which Sir France uh,Sir France Burton went to Mecca and he dyed his skin and he was able to speak Arabic pretty much in a way that fooled native Arabic speakers, even though he had learned Arabic as an adult. How might this relate to what we learned a little bit, about AOA and accents? What can we learn from that? >> Well, there's, literature that discusses this idea of imperceptible non-nativeness, people who can that can pass as native. Except when you give them, you know, 15 tests, they'll flunk three, but they can fool people essentially, into thinking that they're native speakers even their, their, their, non-native speakers. so, I mean some interesting questions about, you know, what predisposition, biases towards certain types of information might exist. And I think what you have in this case is someone who's very, very good, if you want to use that word. If you want to think about talent, that has a particular affinity if you want to use that word. Maybe that's a, a more appropriate one towards language which spoken language. And who wasn't exposed to many languages. So you have the right person in the right place at the right time. And then you take that person across time, and you put them in a new environment, and suddenly they're able to pass as a native. There are people like that and there again, there are hyperpolyglots who can learn 11 or more languages, it suggests that he was a hyperpolyglot. And in fact, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, in the United States is tryanna actively find these types of people, because the really hard languages to learn are China, at least for an English speaker. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic. So, those are the ones that takes two years of training, to be able to learn. And again to pass as a native is quite difficult to do. So these would be the hyper-talented, language learners. again, a very very small Percentage. Now, if we scale back from 11 or more to two or three, there is no reason to believe that an individual can't learn two or three, if exposed enough to these languages across time. Whether they'll learn them without an accent, whether they'll be, again there's a lot of individual variation. But yes it does suggest that there are some people, that really have in a particular affinity toward language. >> Okay well that pretty much sums up, the questions that I had for you for today so thank you so much for taking them and taking the time to answer them and I hope you guys enjoyed this video and that you continue to post questions and comments on the discussion forums. And we'll see you next week.