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Language Learning and Human Development One of the topics addressed by Schunk is how cognition and language affect

human development at different stages. From Schunk’s perspective, cognition changes across extensive age periods (2012); thus, affecting the ability of learning a first or second language. In order to aide in the process of learning a language, theorists have discussed different types of learning strategies that deal with the input of information. Some of these strategies are cognitive, metacognitive, and socio-affective. The one most commonly used in teaching a first or second language in a regular classroom setting is cognitive learning strategies. These strategies include repetition of words, key word recognition, and note-taking. Repetition seems to be an effective method for people with short-term memory deficiencies. Additionally, key word recognition and note-taking serve to reinforce what is being learned; thus, creating a pattern recognition and “making stronger neural connections” (Schunk, 2012). As classroom facilitators, it is imperative that we help students develop effective listening skills so that they can capture essential and important information when taking notes. On the other hand, metacognitive strategies are those in which a plan of action is decided upon prior to exposure to the material, thus it is not so much a surprise or quick response as to how to deal with this new material. This could be of use to second language teachers by explaining to their students’ different ways of dealing with new material encountered and providing practice. Last but not least, socioaffective strategies deal with learning by interacting with others. This could be of great value to second language learners as the teacher provides more conversational opportunities utilizing situation cards, and simulation/gaming among others. In

language learning, it is observed that if one empathizes/identifies more with a group, he or she will be more likely to be motivated to learn a language. This is what is normally seen when individuals learn a first language given that “the individual ascribes cognitive meaning to the stimulus or event, integrates this meaning with an affective component, identifies possible actions, and selects one” (Schunk, 2012, p. 60). Motivation appears to be stronger during second language learning since there is a need to overcome inhibitions to communicate effectively in a second language. Also, strong motivation is needed to overcome language ego – the identity with one’s own native language. Studies in this area give support to the critical period that spans from about 2 years through the age of puberty, where the person learning a second language is able to learn the language with a native-like “accent.” By the age of 2 years, a child has many synapses and his/her brain may be ready to learn various aspects of language (Schunk, 2012, p. 56). Beyond the age of puberty, very rarely will they sound like a native speaker of the second language. For a child, as seen with sports, if learning begins around 5 years, there is a great chance of developing second language learning skills to the fullest potential, excelling in this area and sounding like a native speaker. Therefore, “if young children are exposed to a rich linguistic environment stressing oral and written language, then their language acquisition will develop more rapidly than will the language capabilities of children in impoverished environments” (Schunk, 2012 , p. 57).

References: Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.