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Chapter 1: Language learning in early childhood

1. Behaviorism meets sit-com
This brief clip (2:06 minutes) from the Big Bang Theory shows a humorous interpretation of positive

2. Genie
This is one of a number of links that will take you to information about 'Genie', the child who was
isolated from human company and did not begin to learn language until she was 13 years old.

3. Early language
Go to and search for 'Deb Roy' to hear about 'the birth of a word'. Roy recorded his
child's vocalization and the environment in which he was growing up in order to trace the emergence of
early language.

4. An innatist perspective
Go to and search for 'Steven Pinker' to hear how the innatist perspective can be
used to explain the development of language.

5. The infant linguist

Go to and search for 'Patricia Kuhl' to hear about research on the ability of infants to
make fine phonetic discriminations.

6. Developmental progress

7. Multiliteracies
In this video, Professor Jim Cummins discusses and illustrates the importance of ensuring that students
develop their home/community languages as well as the language of the majority community. Also
included in the video are presentations by teachers and students showing how their first language
knowledge and abilities are integrated into multilingual classroom practices.

When you click on the link it will take you to a web page. Scroll down the page where you will see
'Streaming Video on Demand' - Teaching and learning in Multilingual Ontario and click on 'View video
now'. The site also includes a number of associated videos and activities.

Discussion Questions for Video on Muliliteracies (these questions were written by Paul Quinn
and Julie Kerekes)

1. In Professor Cummins' presentation he refers to three things we know about how learning
takes place. What are these and are these principles of learning being applied to diverse
learners generally?
2. What is probably the most important source of prior knowledge that a second language
speaker of English bring to the classroom?
3. Give one example of how second language speakers of English use their L1 to help them learn
the L2.
4. What does 'teach for transfer' mean?
5. Why does Professor Cummins say that there is a 'communicative chasm' in the homes of many
diverse learners of English?
6. What role can technology play in helping learners to use their first language to learn a second
7. Why should identity investment be a central component in school curricula?
8. What is your understanding of critical literacy?

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Chapter 3: Individual differences in second language learning

1. Aptitude
Paul Meara and his colleagues at the University of Swansea in Wales have developed many innovative
tools for researchers. They describe one set of these tools as 'a set of innovative, and slightly-off-the-
wall tests which we think might be used to assess language aptitude.' You can explore these at the
website below.

2. Exceptional learners
A series of videos featuring a young man with very unusual abilities, including the ability to learn

'Brainman' Daniel Tammet acquires Icelandic in 1 week!

Introduction to Daniel and some of his extraordinary abilities (Part 1 and 2)

3. Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences

In a number of on-line videos, Howard Gardner presents his ideas about how human beings' abilities
are far more diverse than those that are captured on a single traditional 'intelligence test.'

4. Learning Styles
In this presentation, a student introduces the general ideas of learning styles. You can find many related
YouTube videos, some of which are amusing.

5. Motivation
Some of the questionnaires that Zoltán Dörnyei and his colleagues have developed in their studies of
motivation can be found in pdf documents on his website.

6. Age and language learning

The TED talk by Patricia Kuhl makes a strong case for the Critical Period Hypothesis (CPH).

7. Age and multicompetence

Vivian Cook has suggested that rather than looking for evidence that an advanced L2 learner is
'indistinguishable' from a native speaker, we should be looking at successful L2 acquisition as the
achievement of 'multicompetence.' You can find several brief talks about his ideas at his website.