Structural development in the brain may predict the ability to learn foreign languages.
Have you wondered why others can pick up foreign languages so easily and you have such difficulty with the same task? A group of neuroscientists from University College London has uncovered a clue: fast language learners have developed different brain structures at different rates than slow language learners. Their findings, entitled “Brain structure predicts the learning of foreign speech,” determined that the capacity to differentiate sounds in a foreign language is linked to cerebral white matter. In accordance with their results, quick learners have more white matter and a less symmetrical brain than those who labor with foreign tongues.
Translation agencies haven’t gone quite the distance of having their translators’ brains examined, but their translators and interpreters should be qualified professionals, selected for projects on the basis of their native language and their education and training in the field of the material to be translated.
Do you find it difficult to learn new languages? I know I do. My biggest trouble is the differentiation of sounds. Everything seems like it just flows together in one long word to me. But my sister is a whiz, so obviously the problem doesn’t run in families. What language do you think is the hardest for English speakers to learn?