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Love As A Second Language

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by Claudia Civinini

Culturally mixed couples often have stacks of funny anecdotes involving cross-language misunderstandings. But do emotions also get lost in translation? A study investigated how multilinguals feel when expressing emotions in a foreign language. The 429 participants, who had all used a second language in a romantic relationship at least once, took an online questionnaire, and a sample was also interviewed. About 60 per cent of comments were negative, highlighting communication mishaps, general constraining effects of the foreign language and lack of genuineness in the communication.

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Don’t worry, be happy?

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy?

Teachers concerned about their students’ anxiety over foreign language learning should stop focusing on the negative feeling – and aim at helping students enjoy their lessons instead, a new study suggests.

New research on British students by Jean-Marc Dewaele et al (see here), says that teachers should take the focus off anxiety because they can have little influence over it. Teachers should ‘light their students’ fire’ instead of worrying about them being cold, the authors say. In short, they should focus on the positive emotion which they can control – enjoyment.

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Mother tongue traces

Korean child James King

By Claudia Civinini

What impact does our first language have on our brain? A team of scientists tested 29 Korean-born Dutch speakers who were adopted early in life and displayed no residual knowledge of Korean against a control group of native Dutch speakers.

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Going Out Of Style

people talking

By Claudia Civinini
What does an alligator lost in NYC sewers have in common with the theory of learning styles? They are both urban legends, according to a 2013 article by Dr P. A. Kirschner and Dr J. G. Merriëboren. The article argues that education is pervaded by beliefs that ‘do not really concur with the body of research in educational psychology’, the most important one being that ‘learners always know best’. Various myths were explored.

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Mapping the masters market


A team of researchers at the University of Stirling has set out to take the pulse of the ELT masters provision in the UK, Claudia Civinini writes. With our experience in compiling huge lists of masters, it doesn’t come as a surprise that such research would attract our attention. In a study funded by the British Council, the team has indexed UK ELT masters provision and elicited students’ opinions on a range of topics related to their programmes. As well as practical guidance for providers and recruiters, the team hopes to develop a theoretical understanding of the student experience, which has been lacking to date for Tesol students.

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Orang-Utans Have Dialects

Orangutan Family Pic 2 Singapore Zoo Pic courtesy chem7

By Matt Salusbury

Orang-utans develop regional dialects, according to a recent Plos One article, with implications for human language evolution. The ‘Call cultures in orangutans?’ study recorded the calls (‘raspberries’, ‘harmonic uuhs’, ‘throat scrapes’) of populations in Sumatra and Borneo

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Sheffield’s £1m for natural learning

University Sheffield BEA

A research team from the University of Sheffield in the UK has been awarded a £1 million grant by the Leverhulme Trust to carry out a major research project with an ambitious aim: make language learning more natural for adults, Claudia Civinini writes. Team members Dr Dagmar Divjak and Dr Petar Milin represent expertise from a wide range of fields, from linguistics and psychology to machine learning, and are supported by research software engineer Dr Mike Croucher.

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