Research which has previously taken place suggests that language learning is at its peak during the early stages in your life. This is typically up until the age of 9 years old and that’s why language learning should be thrust upon children for greater fluency. But just how relevant is this?
Research which was funded by the National Institutes for Mental Health (US) and the Wellcome Trust provides an insight into language learning for toddlers. This new research suggests that the brain has a critical timeframe between two and four for language development. This is mainly due to environmental factors.
UK and US scientists say that the biggest impact on the brain’s writing development to process new words is before the age of four. This was taken from brain scan images which provided results that suggest that young children are good at learning two languages because of the levels of myelin in the brain.
Two scientists, based at King’s College London, and Brown University, Rhode Island, studied 108 children with normal brain development between the ages of one and six.  They used brain scans to look at myelin – the insulation that develops from birth within the circuitry of the brain. To their surprise, they found the distribution of myelin is fixed from the age of four, suggesting the brain is most plastic in very early life.
But to regular people like us what on earth does this mean exactly? It simply means that we are more susceptible to environmental influences on our brain’s development earlier on in life. This is a fantastic trait to have when it comes to language learning; by being able to absorb useful information during infanthood it provides children with a greater base and understanding of what it is they are taking in. In this case fluency is greater at a younger age when it comes to language learning.
This gives a greater understanding as to why submersing children, before the age of four, into a bilingual environment before the age of four gives them the best chance of becoming fluent in both languages.
Some fascinating facts to remember when you may have children of your own!
Certain factors can influence the way we think, act, and react to life and what it throws at us. For example when the sun is shining some of us tend to feel full of life and generally more upbeat but as soon as winter rears its ugly head many of us across the world can end up suffering and feeling low (and vice versa for those who prefer the winter months). By being hit suddenly by a change in the weather our decisions may change. So if something such as the weather can have an effect on us could it be possible that our language can have an effect on particular influences throughout our lives?
In 2012 an economist Keith Chen released work which suggested that different languages had either weak or strong tenses when it came to speaking about the future and this had an effect on their behaviour. For example in English, we say “I will go to the park tomorrow.” This is considered a strong future tense however in Mandarin or Finnish they say, “I go to the park tomorrow” this is considered to be a weak future tense.
Chen believed that speakers of languages that lacked strong future tense would tend to be more responsible when it came to planning for the future. This led to further speculation with regards to languages and their tenses. As a result Chen collected data to determine whether or not language could in fact have a hold over our behaviour such as saving and even smoking.
Remarkable results revealed that speakers with weak future tenses such as German and Finnish were 30% more likely to save money, 24% more likely to avoid smoking, 29% more likely to exercise on a regular basis and even 13% more likely to be less obese than those language speakers that have strong future tense, such as the English language.  Chen also compared speakers that were both born and raised within the same country as well as their age and number of children. Similar results were found that speakers with weak future tenses demonstrated greater responsibility within their behaviour when it came to their future. A number of factors can have an affect on our behaviour such as religion, culture and now even language – who would have thought it?!
Do you believe that language has shaped your future or decisions in any way?
Over a number of years linguists have studied the relationship between words and their meanings by deconstructing them and tearing them apart letter by letter. However some languages and words can be difficult to deconstruct. Which is what could explain why some words are non translatable. Have you ever tried to translate a word and found that you weren’t able to? Well fear not it can be a common occurrence across a number of languages, just take a look at some of the following that can be difficult to translate in other languages (apart from English):
Waldeinsamkeit (German) – A feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connection to nature.
Pochemuchka (Russian) – Someone who asks a lot of questions
Iktsuarpok (Inuit) – The feeling of anticipation that leads you to go outside and check if anyone is coming.
Komorebi (Japanese) – When sunlight filters through the trees – the interplay between the light and the leaves.
Sobremesa (Spanish) – The period of time after a meal when you have food induced conversations with the people you have shared the meal with.
Jayus (Indonesian) – Someone who tells a joke so badly, that is so unfunny, you cannot help but laugh.
Depaysement (French) – The feeling that comes from not being in ones home country – being a foreigner or an immigrant, or being displaced from your origin.
Have you ever come across any words in your mother tongue that have been difficult or impossible to translate into another language?
Euro London Appointments has now gone mobile. Mobile recruiting is a dynamic and growing industry with over 19% of job seekers using mobile devices to search for jobs and a further 30% of companies now witnessing their traffic coming from mobile devices.
The new mobile website that has been created allows all job seekers to browse all positions not only by location, job category and job type but also language with an additional option to enter key words in an available section. Other features include the history of Euro London, all contact information for all offices as well as a feedback option which allows users to share their opinions which can be made.
The new mobile version is available on all smartphone devices without having to download an app and allows all existing registered users to apply for jobs directly. New visitors to the www.eurolondon.com site will be able to register their interest in a role but will also need to upload their CV via a PC in order to apply for positions via the mobile website.
Steve Shacklock, Managing director of Euro London Appointments UK offices states that: “Here at Euro London Appointments we understand the importance of social media and mobile sites, particularly in recent years. People are on the go now more than ever but continue to use their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet. Therefore we wanted to create a tool which allows job seekers to browse our latest opportunities at the touch of a button with ease; our mobile website certainly allows this to happen.”
Over the past couple of weeks the UK’s 16-18 year olds have been waiting nervously as they bite their nails for their GCSE and A-level results. For many it would have been a joyous occasion, receiving the grades to get into that college or university you’ve been dreaming of to start the next chapter of your life. Along with these groups of individuals there has also been some great news for languages as there has been a major increase in the take-up of modern foreign languages; which is the biggest increase for the first time in 10 years.
The Shadow Education Secretary was pleased to see numbers finally increasing as pupils decided to take on a foreign language for GCSE. He stated that the Nations school language strategy had a positive impact on the number of students choosing language as an option as numbers rose from a dreary 35% to an astonishing 92% in 2008. Not only have languages been on the increase so have the subjects’ grades. Despite recent articles revealing that this year GCSE results had been the lowest in 25 years, the language GCSE’s have been some of the best results that languages have seen.
The only downfall on this is that many of these students are abandoning languages as a subject as soon as they hit their A-levels. Michael Grobe, the Education secretary has expressed his concerns as this trend may continue. With a number of universities closing down languages departments it is a trend to cause concern if languages are not considered when choosing a course at higher education.
If this trend continues it will continue to dumbfound us. Knowing a second language can offer endless opportunities throughout a lifetime. Leave a comment and let us know how leaning a second language has helped you.
In recent years there have been a number of articles that have popped up in the media about the lack of British bilinguals. Now, new research suggests that the figures are becoming progressively worse.
The British Council conducted research including 2,000 Brits which found that a staggering 82% of these people consider themselves unable to communicate well in a foreign language, while 40% found themselves in humiliating situations whilst holidaying as a result of their lack of language skills. The lack of language skills obtained by many Brits has even caused them to influence their cultural experiences whilst on holiday, such as visiting English only restaurants, in order to divert any further embarrassment by not actually knowing what the food on the menu is.
One of the main reasons behind the lack of languages spoken by Britains is due to the education system – a number of other European countries have systems set up in order to set the foundations for learning a foreign language when in Primary school. The government has recently been striving to change this in recent years however the study of languages at schools still reveal that entries to study German at A-levels had fallen by 11.13% compared with 2012, as well as entries for A-level French falling by 9.9%. On the opposite end of the scale, Spanish had surprisingly seemed to have dissolved other negative figures and rose by 4.08%. Meanwhile universities seemed to have also adopted the monoglot trend as a striking 40% of language departments at universities in Britain have been closed in the past decade.
Mark Dawe, chief executive of the OCR exam board, added: “There has been a big push from employers to encourage students to do the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Are they really saying that, though, if you haven’t got a language we’re not going to employ you?”  If there were an increase in language it would effectively lead to a greater increase in productivity. But with many businesses planning to expand into foreign markets it could cause further strain to many monoglots in the UK seeking work and new opportunities.
Don’t put yourself at risk on missing fantastic cultural experiences or an interesting and diverse career path; get started on learning a language today.
We are all very aware of how popular the English language is in today’s world, particularly in business as well as the media and is arguably the most dominant language in history. However for those that speak the lingua franca is it a demon in disguise? Many English natives reject the path to learning a new language as the language is so popular worldwide they expect others to learn their language. With many countries still struggling to recover from the 2008 economic crisis could language learning genuinely be the answer to a lot of job hunting difficulties?
In the past, going to university and obtaining a degree was enough to impress employers but with the way the world is changing this does simply not cut it anymore. As a result of this we have countries with a number of top graduates who still struggle to find a career they desire in the working world. Carl Gilleard, former chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), said: “Businesses require talent to compete at a global level, and the fact that the UK is lagging behind its competitors in developing graduates who fit the bill is a real cause of concern.”  Something that a vast majority of Brits are ignoring.
According to recent stats 54% of Europeans can converse in at least one foreign language compared to a mere 39% of Britons who claimed the same. Further research indicates that a staggering 14% of UK graduates are missing out on fantastic opportunities within the digital sector as a result of not speaking another language.
Therefore given the evidence, other than voluntary work in order to build experience within sectors in order to provide an advantage in a job search, learning a second (third or even fourth) language could provide an alternative way to stand out and land you that job you’ve been waiting for!
Have you ever watched a film and wished you had a particular gadget or superpower, don’t be embarrassed now; it’s happened to the best of us! Fixated by the opportunities of being transported from a crowded city to a beautiful sunny island, or pondering what an easy life it would be if we could read people minds or the mischief that we could get up to if we had the chance to be invisible. But imagine the possibilities if you could have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world without either of you knowing the same language. According to recent reports in the media Google are in fact working on a new device that could do exactly this.
The gadget that is being designed by Google has been likened to the high-tech gadgets that have been seen in shows such as Star Trek. New developments at Google could potentially allow the technology to become reality as it could translate spoken words into another language in real-time through a receiver. Although the device is still a number of years away from being perfected, Google’s vice president of Android, Hugo Barra, revealed that it has already mastered translations from English to Portuguese.  This isn’t the first translation device that Google have brought to life as they already created ‘Google Translate’ which currently works with 71 languages.
So, if a world existed where language learning was no longer necessary to communicate between two people who speak different languages, would people still bother in taking the time to learn a language? If you asked us, we would have to disagree; although the device is brilliant and indeed would be a great addition to the world in a number of ways – there are certain attributes that it does not possess. Actually learning a language can provide a number of benefits which can benefit your life unlike a gadget, despite its intellect.
What are your thoughts – would a device such as the one Google is working on stop you from learning languages?
The Tour De France is well on its way, it started on the 29th June and finishes at the weekend on the 21st July 2013. Talents this year include multilingual Chris Froome who has captured the attention not only with his strength, power and endurance in the event but his amazing set of French language skills. Sadly for many in France it has become increasingly noticeable that the lingua Franca for a number of competitors was not French, but instead English was adopted in many scenarios.
Whilst conducting an interview, Chris Froome was thanked for liaising with the interviewer in French, something that might seem rather odd considering that they were in France after all, right? Not exactly, the French language has seen a slow decline across the world and now is even making its way to France and in the 100th edition of the Tour; English has become an equal of, if not superior to, the country’s native language.
Multilingual riders such as Froome (who speaks French and Italian) are increasingly harder to find these days. Non-French rising stars including German, Slovak, Belgian and Italian speakers are now opting for English as a means of communication, particularly in conferences, instead of learning the French language. The tour’s translator Pascale Schyns clarifies this as he states that “French is disappearing here…It wasn’t too long ago that we could say that French was the predominant language, but now there’s more English.” 
The integration of riders travelling abroad to purchase their bike racing dreams whilst striving to learn a language in order to be a part of the culture has slowly lost its novelty to some due to the English language turnout. As a result of the surge of the English language in France in the last decade, other unions including Union Cycliste Internationale have issued English as an official second language
Do you live in a country where your native language is overtaken, perhaps due to big events such as The Tour De France. If so do you welcome the languages into your culture?
Languages from Mandarin to German and Afrikaans have many different linguistic differences, making them easy and hard to learn. The ease or difficulty of learning another language simply depends on a person’s mother tongue. For example a Polish speaker will find it easier to learn another Slavic language like Czech than an Asian language such as Japanese, while linguistic similarities mean that a Japanese speaker would find it easier to learn Mandarin Chinese than Polish. Generally speaking, the closer the second language is to the learner’s native tongue and culture in terms of vocabulary, sounds or sentence structure, the easier acquisition will be.
But what happens when a language is classified as ‘linguistically weird’?! According to research the following languages are the top 10 ‘weirdest’ languages (and it doesn’t include the made up language you made up as a child.)
1. Mixtec (Chalcatongo)
4. Diegueño (Mesa Grande)
5. Oromo (Harar)
9. Armenian (Eastern)
10. German 
Despite the above languages being considered to be the weirdest languages they are in fact some of the most widely spoken languages. However it could be argued that each and every language has some form of weirdness depending on the draw of linguistics. According to the study English ranks quite highly in terms of weird languages in 33rd place – even though a number of us may consider English to be one of the least strange languages. It all falls down to the structure of the language. So the languages which may be deemed normal, such as English, Spanish and German aren’t really as they technically do things differently to other languages in the world and therefore defining them as weird. To add to this there is not a particular link between the region and strangeness of a language – each and every one of the top 25 weirdest languages are scattered across various continents!
The 5 least weirdest languages are: