A more condensed way to ask the anagram question of Tuesday maybe: What service person for one of America’s military forces is anagram for plural service people in another force?
Answer to the anagram puzzle: Marine -><-Airmen.
A recent study published in May showed that adults who were more apt to pick up statistical regularities, or patterns to the rest of us non-scientist people – were quicker to pick up a second language than those who did not grasp patterns as quickly. That’s not to say if an anagram or pattern spotting is a snap for you, it’s time to rush out and try to learn Turkish or Czech by Rosetta Stone and osmosis.
This might not be the best way to learn a language, a study published by an international team of scientists in 2009 shows. Looking at how babies learn languages, the scientists found that very young children have the innate ability to distinguish sounds unique to languages, but that ability starts to fade even before their first birthday. The brain begins to tune out sounds that don’t fit within the dominant language. ( The best time researchers found to learn languages was bilingual from birth, or before age 7.) Children learn languages by essentially by creating brain neural circuits architect-ed for that language, or two as they learn the full language. The same study shows that babies who are raised bilingually learn both languages in the same time it takes a baby to learn only one language.
Italian researchers found that the brain essentially hardens to learning new languages after puberty, and doesn’t develop these new circuits as easily. From this, researchers found that the best way for adults to learn a language is to make it more social and well more like languages taught to babies, in motherese – the exaggerated, extended sounds that parents speak to very young children in. Adults who were exposed to these sounds were found to grasp the alien sounds a new language quicker than those exposed to plainly spoken versions of the language. So teach us like small children, and our brains will develop the same acumen and circuitry of a small child.
The other finding is that the quickest way to learn a language is to be immersed or embedded in it. So it’s a great excuse to travel far, wide and often.