In our journey of language acquisition, we constantly faced nomenclature issues. When we said language, only spoken languages come into our mind while other aspects remain understated in our brain. But few years into the language research lab, we decided to name it as communication acquisition.
With our research into language acquisition (oops communication acquisition) taking shape with recognitions, conference presentations, publications and other programs, I decided to explore the creative aspect of it. After a lot of brain storming, nothing came up. But one day as I was talking to one of my patients (a 3 year old kid), she showed me something interesting. This girl was brought to me by her mother saying that she does not talk as much as the children of her age would do. But the girl showed me her drawing note and showed me few pictures drawn by her. It clearly depicted domestic violence. Then the Eureka moment came. Why not explore creative expression in the light of neuroscience. I discussed with my team and we branched out into creative expression. Wikipedia quoted arts as “an outlet of expression” and the list is huge. So one part of our research wing started exploring using visual arts like drawing and painting, I decided to explore personally the performing arts. And so we opened the Pandora’s Box.
It was an interesting experiment- a two-day acting workshop with the Evam entertainment. Though I learnt lot of things, I would like to limit myself to the language (oops again-communication) part of the workshop. What caught my attention and set my neuroscientific brain into various levels of thinking was the body language part of it. Especially the activity where we had to act talking gibberish yet convey the message through facial expressions and body language. Interestingly I played the role of a female. And I understood how much I was conveying through expressions alone. But what was happening in the mind of the viewers? Or in the brain of the audience? How could they appreciate it? Though western studies have a different view of this, an auto ethnography study on this is still missing and this study exactly aims to do this.
Now coming to the neuroscientific part of it, when we were looking at the body language, our hypotheses is that a unique circuit got activated that is embedded within the communication acquisition circuit? We are exploring this and may be in future we would clearly pin point all these circuits.
As of now, there is definitely a communication acquisition circuit that closely works with communication, social interactions, empathy and simulation.
Keep in touch with us for more of our interesting revelations……
Our first experiment started with the reading of existing literature. Wait! This is no academic literature search. I am talking about the ancient writings that carry some immense knowledge on language learning. So we analysed few scriptures and came up with two important events recorded in the scriptures.
Event 1: Abhimanyu
Ancient scriptures talk about how Abhimanyu, son of Arjuna heard the strategy of getting into the Chakravyuh while being a fetus. Unfortunately he did not listen to the portion that detailed the exit strategy.
Event 2: The story of Babel
Genesis 9:11 talks about how God confused languages. The story goes like this, people on earth start building a tower that rises above the clouds to reach the heavens. God is unhappy about it and understands that humans are doing so many things mainly because they have a single language to communicate. So he confused them by creating languages and thereby gave birth to the plethora of languages that we have today.
Here is another interesting fact: there is something called the GIFT of TONGUES which is reported in the Bible in the book of Acts and also Pentecostal Christians speak till date when they are in prayer. It is said to be the divine language of the Gods and Angels.
Considering these two events, (fact or myth, we are not debating this), it can be understood that language acquisition may be more complex and having more religious connotation. Whatever it is, we enjoy learning languages and we are content with it.
The following series of writings is the product of five year research into language acquisition by us. These are only preliminary findings customized for popular writing.
Say goodbye to vocabulary drilling and grammar exercises, thanks to the latest insights into language learning. Language learning is an instinct that humans have been naturally gifted with.
How does a child start breastfeeding without prior training? How does a child who cannot dress properly or solve simple 2+2 arithmetic problems form complex sentences in present, future and past without any classroom or text book or even before the child reads or writes? If these are instincts, then from where do these instincts come from?
The solution to language acquisition is very simple, the brain contains an internal system that can be compared to a hardware which when programmed adequately can learn any language as first language.
For decades, we have been following a system of learning languages where we begin with the alphabets, simple sentences, complex sentences and yet take years to gain the fluency. But the reality is that there is no need to learn grammar structure or syntax. Our brain has the inherent capacity to understand this syntax and semantics if adequate exposure is available.
This can be substantiated by the hypotheses that the brain contains a communication circuit that is packed into a very small space similar to the DNA but has an infinite capacity to grow, evolve, understand patterns, create templates, organize sequences, associate things, appreciate analogies and similarities between two unrelated things in life, create unique communication techniques and it is this what makes human beings stand apart from the rest of the creation.
The above hypotheses can be supported by the fact that language acquisition is identical across different languages even if the kids do not have all the necessary requirements at their disposal. And children of deaf parents acquire language given a minimum input of 5 to 10 hours of spoken language per week. Deaf children experience difficulties acquiring oral language but go through the normal stages of language acquisition if exposed to a natural sign language.
…… follow this space for the next post