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早教有理:以为忘了 其实没忘

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2018年05月10日

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Human memory isn’t perfect but its also far more plastic than some people give it credit. For instance, a new study found that the earliest traces of a language can stay with us well into adulthood even if today we can no longer understand, let alone speak the language. According to the paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, this subconscious knowledge can then be exploited to speed up the language acquisition process.

人类记忆并不完美,但它远比人们所认为的更加灵活。一项新研究发现,生命初期的语言痕迹能够跟随我们直到成年,哪怕我们不再理解它、也不再说它。人们能够利用这种潜意识知识,加速语言习得过程。

早教有理:以为忘了 其实没忘

The findings were reported by an international team of Dutch and South Korean researchers who studied 29 Korean-born Dutch speakers and an equal-sized native Dutch-speaking control group. The first group was essentially made of people born in Korea but adopted by Dutch families before the age of six. With no exception, all participants reported they could not speak a word in Korean.

荷兰与韩国的研究人员进行了一项研究。他们招募了29名出生于韩国、但在六岁之前被荷兰家庭收养的荷兰人,并将同等数量的荷兰语母语者作为控制组。所有参与者都表示自己一个韩国词汇都不会说。

For two weeks, the adoptees were trained to identify three Korean consonants and asked to reproduce them. These sounds were unlike anything in the Dutch language.

他们接受为期两周的训练,学习辨认三种韩语辅音,并学会发音。这些发音与荷兰语一点都不像。

At the end of the training period, the participants’ attempts at Korean utterances were rated by native Koreans. Ultimately, the researchers found that the adoptees improved far quicker across the training period than the control group.

训练结束时,韩语母语者为其韩语发音进行打分。结果发现,收养组的提高速度远高于控制组。

The most striking find, however, was that the rate of learning was just as accelerated even for those adopted before the age of six months. At this age, babies can’t speak but the experiment proves there’s some kind of assimilation that subconsciously stays with us well into adulthood.

最令人震惊的实验结论是:哪怕在六个月前就被领养,其学习速率依旧能够加速。实验表明,尽管六个月前的婴儿尚不会开口说话,但某些语言同化能够在潜意识中跟随着人们,直至成年。

“One of the most interesting findings was that no difference showed in the learning results of those Korean-born participants adopted under six months of age and those adopted after the age of seventeen months,” explained Mirjam Broersma, who is a language scientist at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI). “This means that even in the very early months of life, useful language knowledge is laid down, and what has been retained about the birth language is abstract knowledge about what patterns are possible, not, for instance, words.”

在出生于韩国的参与者中,无论被收养于6个月前、还是17个月后,其学习结果并不存在差异。也就是说,哪怕是在极早的生命初期,语言知识也已贮存在我们的大脑中。此外,这个阶段保留下来的是一些抽象语言知识(哪些语言模式是可能的),而非词汇之类的具体知识。

The first six months of our lives can be very wild and there’s a lot we learn in this short time. It was never clear up to now, however, how much of that learning is retained even if there’s no further input from a language. Whatever’s the case, for the thousands of people who were adopted internationally this may come as good news, especially for those looking to reconnect with their ancestral roots — the people, culture, and language of their birthplace.

生命的最初六个月非常混乱,我们能够在极短时间内学习大量事物。但此前,人们并不知道在没有持续输入的情况下,婴儿所习得的语言知识能够保留多少。如今,对成千上万的跨国领养儿童来说,这项研究或许是个好消息——尤其是对那些希望寻根的人而言。

Previously, researchers from McGill University, Canada performed a similar experiment with children from China adopted in France. They found the participants’ brain activity carried the same response as bilinguals even though by all accounts they looked monolingual. Bilinguals get distracted less easily, are better at multitasking, find creative solutions to problems more often, have increased memory capacity, and lower risk of Alzheimer’s. So, it seems that being exposed to a foreign language very early on can have lasting benefits later in life.

先前,加拿大麦吉尔大学的研究人员曾在法国进行过类似研究,研究对象是出生于中国的领养儿童。结果发现,尽管这些人貌似只会说一种语言,但他们和双语者的大脑活动反应是一样的。双语者更不容易被干扰、更擅长处理多重任务、更容易找到创造性的解决方法、记忆容量更大、阿尔兹海默患病率更低……所以,早早聆听外语似乎能够拥有持久的功效。


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