The above article pointed out that Paul Sulzberger had found that “the best way to learn a language is through frequent exposure to its sound patterns—even if you haven’t a clue what it all means.” I wonder how unique Sulzberger’s findings are. Didn’t anybody proposed such a theory? There are some words related to the brain, such as “the structures in the brain,” “neural tissue,” and “neural structures.” Does that mean that he tested his theory by checking how nerve cells work by experiment?
when i was learning german i listened to A LOT of Rammstein and other german music. i also watched a few german movies. the only thing i noticed was that i could recall “der, die or das” better than most of my classmates (and also their form in different cases) because i think i have heard it in the music and movies. that is the extent of increased learning capability i noticed from listening to a foreign language without knowing all of its meaning.
the “brain” words you referred to is just talking about the brain processing language information. it suggests nowhere that he actually tested the brain’s activity during a language learning session.
You tell your brain you want to learn another language and that you think you can do it. Then you feed the brain a lot of interesting and enjoyable content. Occasionally you help the brain by reviewing some words or rules or tables, but mostly the brain learns on its own, if you treat it nicely.
The mind designates our consciousness, our will, our determination, our feelings. The brain designates the neural circuitry that governs all the workings of that organ.
In The Mind and the Brain Schwartz explains how he treated people with Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour, not with drugs, but by convincing them that their compulsive behaviour existed because of certain neural networks in the patients brain, and was not inevitable, not a part of the patients being necessarily. If the patient could will him or herself to stop this behaviour, the brain could be brought to heel, controlled, and the behaviour stopped. It meant the patient feeling that his will had a “mind of its own” and need not be governed by the behaviour of these neural networks. The book describes a number of clinical examples.
It is certainly true that our mind, that is out attitude, our mood, our feelings, greatly influence our ability to learn things, or to achieve things. We can decide to be positive, proactive. We can visualize positive results, think positive thoughts, and then work towards achieving these results.
Spinoza also thought along these lines. I am sure there are useful references from Buddhism.
I don’t know if this will make any sense but here’s what I “do” now and what I did before.
Now, I let my brain learn it without restricting it by thinking too much. However, when I learned English in school I was trying too hard to understand it rather than letting my brain get used to the language. And I personally don’t think songs and movies are that great to learn new words. Youtube videos, tv series and podcasts are much greater in my opinion.
I know that the brain as an organ processes information from your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and so on, but the brain is nothing without these organs in your body. On the other hand, your feet cannot walk, your mouth cannot speak, your eyes cannot see, and so on, If your brain does not function properly. If you don’t know much about how your nerve cells in you brain work when you are learning a language, why do you want to use such a strange phrase like “the brain learns?” I feel that this expression is pseudo-scientific.
The brain ‘knows’ how to establish new links, (has it always known how to do it, or did the first electrical impulses teach it how to do it, i.e. did it ‘learn’ how to do it, the way we ‘learn’ doing new things better thanks to the new links being established?)
I don’t really understand the opening question. Our brain is “us”, it is home to our cognitive functions including our self-consciousness and our will, whatever that is. Our will, free or not, is not separated from our brain. As to which autonomy and power our will really has, is another question of course over which we have had a lively debate before. I believe, as many scientists do including the great Albert Einstein, that the autonomy of our “will” is largely an illusion.
I agree with Friedermann. In my view, our brain and mind are one thing. When we listen to the target language, our brain consumes new words by guessing the meaning. If content is interesting, process is faster. It doesn’t matter, if it’s called learning or not. Grammar rules and memorizing vocabulary damage this natural ability.
I suggest anyone interested in the subject read The Mind and the Brain.
The term “the brain learns” is not intended to be pseudo-scientific or any kind of scientific, it is just a statement of how some people, like me, feel about the process of learning. The brain learns regardless of what we do. However, we are free to influence how and what it learns, even if those decisions of ours are conditioned by factors that are beyond our control. The illusion of control over our lives, our decisions, our feelings, and our learning activities is just as good as the real thing, and really quite motivating.
This philosophy is at the core of my approach to language learning. I feel that my feelings and will (determination) influence what I do, and how effectively I pursue different objectives like language learning. I have a choice about these feelings about language learning, or how positive or energetic I feel, and where I choose to spend my efforts.
There is nothing that Friedemann or you or others can say that will induce me to change this view. I consider the position that there is no mind separate from the brain to be “pseudo-scientific” and irrelevant. So"pseudo-scientific" just becomes another way of saying “I disagree, and your views do not interest me.”
‘The term “the brain learns” is not intended to be pseudo-scientific or any kind of scientific, it is just a statement of how some people, like me, feel about the process of learning.’
Exactly. It is just a way of saying that our brain makes connection, etc. It is meaningless (not fruitful) to focus on “the brain learns”, just as it is stupid to fixate on such expressions as “the information sinks in” or “make it (what you learn) stick”.
I see your point about being determined to learn and so forth and I agree that learning results are better if we are motivated. I know you are not religious so I don’t think you believe in a metaphysical soul. So where does our will reside if not in our brain? All our cognitive functions are ultimately linked to certain structures in our body and our will is certainly linked to our brain. In that sense, the brain motivates itself to learn.