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Language Learning and the Developing Brain

The child's brain is different from the adult brain in that it is a very dynamic structure that is evolving. A two-year-old child has twice as many synapses (connections) in the brain as an adult. The young brain must use these connections or lose them. Thus, failure to learn a skill during a critical or sensitive period has important significance. According to Dr. Michael Phelps, Chairman of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology of the UCLA School of Medicine, the learning experiences of the child determine which connections are developed and which will no longer function.

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, a Speech Scientist at the University of Washington, reports that babies are born "citizens of the world" in that they can distinguish differences among sounds (temporal, spectral, and duration cues) borrowed from all languages. They are ready to learn any language they hear, but by six months of age, they start to specialize in their native language.

Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, who studies the way children learn languages, notes that in language development there is a window of opportunity in which the child learns that first language normally. After this period, the brain becomes slowly less plastic and by the time the child reaches adolescence, the brain cannot develop "richly and normally any real cognitive system, including language. "The four- or five-year old learning a second language is a "perfect model for the idea of the critical period." According to Dr. Curtis ...the power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn't seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way...They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is just ripe to do this...there doesn't seem to be any detriment to...develop(ing) several languages at the same time.

When children wait until high school to start studying a foreign language, the job is much harder. The task now involves learning the rules of grammar, translating, reading, and trying to develop language learning strategies. The task is a different one than it was for the young child in the sensitive period for language learning. Brain plasticity has been lost, the number of synapses has greatly reduced, and the brain no longer has the same facility to restructure itself that it had when the child was young.

Reprinted from the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL).
(1996, winter). "Learning Languages,1"(2), 17.

~ School News ~

Toy Drive(Posted:12/6/2017)

 

We will be collecting new and gently used toys for LIPI.

All toys should be brought in and put under our tree by Friday, December 8th.

Thank you for all of your generosity.

Christmas Concert(Posted:12/6/2017)

 

 

 

 

St.Theresa's Christmas concert will take place on Wednesday, December 20th in the school gym.

Please see attached schedule with the December Newsletter for more information.

Merry Christmas(Posted:12/6/2017)

The staff at St.Theresa would like to wish all of our students and families a very blessed Christmas.

May your time together be filled with love and joy at Christmas and throughout the new year.

Christmas Mass(Posted:12/6/2017)

 

 

All are welcome to join us for our Christmas Mass in our gym.

To take place December 18th at 9:15 a.m.

School Supplies 2017-2018(Posted:8/23/2016)

Dear Parent(s)/ Guardian(s),

School supplies by grade level have been posted. There may be a few additional items that will be required specific to your classroom teacher suggestions. These lists will get you started:

 

 

~ Board News ~

NPSC Winter Newsletter Now Available(Posted:12/14/2017)

The winter edition of the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board Newsletter, Schools to Believe in, is now available. Click the link below for details about what's happening in our Catholic schools and to learn more about upcoming events.

 

 

Support Catholic Education(Posted:10/30/2017)

DID YOU KNOW?  Your school support defaults to English Public each time you move residences. You must re-declare yourself as English Separate.    

By ensuring that you are accurately recorded as a Separate School Supporter, you will be able to cast a vote for Catholic trustees in the October 22, 2018 Municipal Election and you are helping to deliver a powerful message to the Ontario government about the level of support for publicly funded Catholic education in our province.

Learn more here: http://www.npsc.ca/support-catholic-education/