Reading: / Multiple Choice Type Question (MCQ) / Part 3


 Questions 1 - 5, which are based on Reading Passage

Learning a Second Language

Various studies of second language learning have all shown that the benefits of learning a second language are much broader than simply the ability to speak in another language.

Research affirms the importance of second language education regarding intellectual potential, scholastic achievement, first language skills, citizenship and the economy.

Learning a second language in this context is not learning a second language as a natural process when one acquires a first language. After childhood, the areas of the brain that are responsible for language acquisition become more fixed, and the process of picking up additional languages becomes more academic and less organic. The specific context concerns a person who has learned his or her first language automatically and is now learning a new language through a teacher, self-teaching or teaching oneself with a book or maybe online.

School children can get unexpected benefits from learning a foreign language. Educational research shows that results in English and Science are better for students who study one.

The reasons for this are not altogether clear: perhaps the study skills acquired and used for studying another language also strengthen study skills used in other areas and it could also strengthen the ability to analyse and interpret information. It also seems that knowledge of the grammar of students’ native language is often made clearer to them through explicitly learning another language’s grammar. A foreign language is a whole new system with distinct rules, etymology, and meaning, which are just a few of the complexities of a language. Learning

a new one puts the brain to task by recognising this new language structure. As the brain works out meaning and makes full use of this new arsenal to express ideas, it seems that it sharpens skills on reading, negotiating, and problem-solving.

Multi-tasking is stressful to those who are not skilled at it. People who are multilingual are proficient at slipping from one language system to another and using totally different language mechanics. This is very distracting and demanding work, not only for the tongue and language faculties, but also especially for the brain. People who have developed multilingual ability are highly proficient multi-taskers and commit very few errors when juggling various activities.

Related to this, with other factors held constant, several pieces of research have also shown that multilingual adults experienced the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia at a later age of 75 compared to monolingual adults, who had the first signs at age 71. The studies were conducted with other variables such as gender, overall health, educational level, and economic status, but there were no significant results that contributed to the mentioned diseases as significantly as the number of languages spoken. It seems that the more the brain is used, the better its functions work. Learning a new language structure entails familiarising with vocabulary and rules, and converting this memorised information into communication.

This strengthens memory, because the brain has built its ability to associate information with mnemonics in order to retain information better. Hence, multilingual people have that are more exercised and quicker to recall.

Since a language is a doorway to a particular culture, learning a new language enables a brains person to have a broader understanding of the race or culture that speaks it. Opening up to a culture allows people to be more flexible and appreciative of other ways of doing and looking at things. As a result, if people are multilingual, they have the advantage of seeing the world from different vantage points. In today’s interconnectedness, this is a valuable tool and with universal unemployment problems, a multilingual ability is definitely a competitive edge over others. Businesses are of course interested in people who have an ability that improves their intelligence, flexibility, openness to diverse people, and decision-making skills. And these are just bonuses to the evident ability to communicate in several languages and cross-cultural barriers. Additionally, speaking another language can simply give people a lot of pleasure, as they can communicate with others in their native language.

Finally, self-confidence is a normal consequence of learning a new language. By simply mastering one skill, the other faculties are developed. No matter their background, people tend to gravitate around multilingual people because of their skills; others simply find the openness and quick-mindedness of multi-lingual people naturally attractive. It is an interesting outcome, not at all something that is expected as a result when people embark to learn a new language, but trying to understand a language and the heritage that goes with it will put the learner in a position of self-discovery. It makes learners come to terms with how they view the world and other cultures, and have more appreciation of their own.

The cognitive and neurological benefits of learning a foreign language extend from early childhood to old age, as the brain more efficiently processes information and staves off cognitive decline. These cognitive and neurological benefits are instantly apparent, but there occurs a host of social, cultural and personal benefits, among them the ability to explore a culture through its native tongue or talk to someone with whom it might otherwise not be able to communicate. Learning a second language is best introduced at the earliest age possible, but learning it at a much later age is still very much worthwhile.

Questions 1 - 5

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.

Write the correct letter in boxes 1 - 5 on your answer sheet.

1          Studies have shown that second language learning can even affect…………….

  1. a learner’s health.
  1. a learner’s life expectancy.
  2. a learner’s ability in his or her mother tongue.
  3. a learner’s stress levels.
  1. The benefits that second language learning creates with children’s study of other subjects……

A         are more noticeable in Mathematics.

B         do not have fully understood reasons.

C         are usually apparent in studies of children’s first language.

D         show themselves more in secondary school children.

3          Switching from one language to another…………….

A         is hard work for the brain.

  1. is not a natural process.
  2. can damage how the tongue shapes words.
  3. can cause confusion in older people.

4          The ability to switch from one language to another……………….

  1. can lead to confusion when multi-tasking.
  1. can lead to mistakes when people do too many things at the same time.
  2. is unlikely to help people with the physical aspects of sport.
  3. helps people develop multi-tasking skills.

5          Bilingualism…………………

  1. can delay the start of Alzheimer’s disease.

B         gives the same chance as anyone else of Alzheimer’s disease after the age 71.

C         means faster brain deterioration through more use than monolingualism.

  1. has been proved to have stopped Alzheimer’s disease in some adults.