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The science of language learning

As people, we’re instinctually drawn to language as a means of communication. After all, it’s one of the things that makes us truly human. According to the National Science Foundation, nearly all human beings will be native speakers of at least one language by age 5. But what comes so naturally as a small child becomes a more challenging task after adolescence, when the brain has a more difficult time building rules around sound and language structure. 

Language learning tools
It’s never too late to learn another language. All it takes is determination and the right set of tools. Here are some options worth considering:

  • Classes: Enroll in classes at your local college or learning center. In addition to personal instruction, courses also have the added benefit of introducing you to others who are also learning. 
  • Rosetta Stone: Available free to all Anythinkers, Rosetta Stone uses interactive software to accelerate the language-learning process – including imagery in real-life, everyday contexts. Click here to access.
  • Audio instruction: Make the most of your daily commute or exercise routine by listening to foreign language albums. Several options are available via the Anythink catalog or streaming with hoopla digital. Visit anythinklibraries.org/ebooks-downloads to access. 

The benefits of being bilingual 

There are a multitude of reasons to invest time in learning another language. Positive advantages extend beyond the social and vocational, and can actually improve certain brain functionality. The Dana Foundation, a leading supporter of brain research, notes the following cognitive advantages of being bilingual: 

» Better attention and task-switching capacities

» In children, better adjustment to environmental changes 

» In seniors, less cognitive decline 

» Improved performance on tasks that require conflict management 


Did you know? 

The Taíno people lived throughout the Caribbean as the largest group of indigenous inhabitants of countries like Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. After the 1492 arrival of Spaniards, the Taínos population quickly diminished. By 1548, there were fewer than 500 native Taínos, the majority of whom had died from warfare, enslavement and infectious diseases such as smallpox. Though the Taíno language is now extinct, many of their words were adopted by Spanish colonizers and live on in the English language, giving us clues about the Taíno culture. These words include hammock, barbecue, canoe, manatee and hurricane