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Becoming Fluent: How Cognitive Science Can Help Adults Learn a Foreign Language

by Richard M Roberts and Roger J Kreuz The MIT Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 248 pages
AU$54.99 NZ$56.51
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Adults who want to learn a foreign language are often discouraged because they believe they cannot acquire a language as easily as children. Once they begin to learn a language, adults may be further discouraged when they find the methods used to teach children don't seem to work for them. What is an adult language learner to do? In this book, Richard Roberts and Roger Kreuz draw on insights from psychology and cognitive science to show that adults can master a foreign language if they bring to bear the skills and knowledge they have honed over a lifetime. Adults shouldn't try to learn as children do; they should learn like adults.

Roberts and Kreuz report evidence that adults can learn new languages even more easily than children. Children appear to have only two advantages over adults in learning a language: they acquire a native accent more easily, and they do not suffer from self-defeating anxiety about learning a language. Adults, on the other hand, have the greater advantages -- gained from experience -- of an understanding of their own mental processes and knowing how to use language to do things. Adults have an especially advantageous grasp of pragmatics, the social use of language, and Roberts and Kreuz show how to leverage this metalinguistic ability in learning a new language.

Learning a language takes effort. But if adult learners apply the tools acquired over a lifetime, it can be enjoyable and rewarding.
There are many books about language learning in general, but it's greatto finally see this scientifically sound account of second language acquisition. Iwas constantly nodding my head at things that I know to be true as an experiencedlanguage learner and coach to language learners, explained in a no-nonsense waydrawing on many valid sources. Recommended for people who want to know the factsabout adult foreign language acquisition. Benny Lewis, international best-selling author of Fluent in 3Months Becoming Fluent is written by cognitive psychologistswho lucidly demonstrate how adults can successfully learn a foreign language byutilizing strategies based on reliable cognitive science and educational psychologyresearch. The reader will understand how and why he or she can master a new language-- an insight unrealized in previous texts. Timothy Jay, Professor of Psychology, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, andauthor of The Psychology of Language and Why WeCurse This is a one-of-a-kind book that will give adult language learners theconfidence they need to start or continue studying a foreign language. Engaginglywritten chapters draw on the authors' personal experiences and findings fromcognitive science to illustrate why language learners experience problems andexplain what they can do to overcome them. Susan R. Fussell, Professor, Department of Communication and Department ofInformation Science, Cornell University, and editor of The VerbalCommunication of Emotions
Richard Roberts, currently a Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State, taught psychology in Europe and Asia with the University of Maryland University College. Roger Kreuz is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis.