How long does knowledge of foreign languages last?

Recent press reports have talked about new research, claiming to show that people retain knowledge of foreign languages learnt many years ago, even if they do not use the language actively. Those reports were triggered by announcements by the researchers, for example at: york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2022/research/knowledge-of-foreign-languages-lasts-a-lifetime https://theconversation.com/modern-language-gcses-continue-to-fall-in-popularity-but-new-research-shows-language-knowledge-will-last-you-a-lifetime-187820 In this post, I give a bit more detail on…… Continue reading How long does knowledge of foreign languages last?

Into the 2-word stage

When I last reported on my youngest granddaughter’s progress in learning language, she was still clearly at the 1-word stage (at 20 months). She was still there a couple of months later, though maybe just starting to produce 2-word phrases or statements. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/early-words She recently had her 2nd birthday and is now very definitely in…… Continue reading Into the 2-word stage

More on cat noir

In an earlier post, I discussed possible reasons for how my 4-year-old granddaughter pronounces the name of a TV cartoon character called Cat Noir. Cat Noir: how children learn non-native sounds – Language Miscellany Having recently watched a few episodes with my grandsons (her cousins), I now realise where she gets the pronunciation from. The…… Continue reading More on cat noir

Learning to eat in the past (2)

I’ve mentioned before that my grandson (then 6 years, 9 months, but now 6 years 11 months) regularly uses ‘ated’ as the past tense of the verb eat. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/05/learning-to-eat-in-the-past I forgot to say that he also regularly uses ‘aten’ as the past participle of that verb. And over the last couple of weeks I’ve also heard…… Continue reading Learning to eat in the past (2)

Learning to eat in the past

How do young children learn to create inflected forms of words? For example, how do they learn that: most English verbs form the past tense with the suffix -ed (eg walked from walk);some English verbs undergo other types of change in the past tense (eg sat from sit);a few have complexly unrelated past tense forms…… Continue reading Learning to eat in the past

Teaching English grammar in school doesn’t improve children’s writing. Really?

At the beginning of March, the British press was full of stories about a new academic study. According to those stories, the study shows that teaching children in school doesn’t make them write better. It turns out that the study didn’t exactly show that. I discuss below:  what the press releases saidthe study and the…… Continue reading Teaching English grammar in school doesn’t improve children’s writing. Really?

Fronted adverbials

Periodically, a debate breaks out in the British press about whether schools in England teach too much English grammar or too little English grammar. The trigger for the latest outpouring was an academic study suggesting that teaching grammar does not improve children’s writing. For some commentators, the phrase ‘fronted adverbials’ now exemplifies excessive focus on…… Continue reading Fronted adverbials

Learning that ‘look like’ is 2 words, not 1 word

Several times recently, I’ve heard my grandson (4 years 3 months) say that a thing ‘look likes’ something else. He says that with no hesitation or stumbling and without any obvious indication of having meant to say ‘looks like’. And he says it consistently. So I am sure he is saying it intentionally. It seems…… Continue reading Learning that ‘look like’ is 2 words, not 1 word

Cat Noir: how children learn non-native sounds

My granddaughter has just turned 4 and has recently become very keen on a cartoon character called cat noir. She pronounces noir as a two-syllable word, with a vowel [ə] inserted after the [n]: [nə.waː]. In contrast, many speakers of British English—including her 6-year-old sister—pronounce this word as a single syllable: either [nwa] or with…… Continue reading Cat Noir: how children learn non-native sounds