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Monolingualism – Bilingualism – Multilingualism

The Teacher's Perspective


Hanna Komorowska and Jarosław Krajka

The book brings together sociolinguistic, neurolinguistic, and educational perspectives on language acquisition and learning in the classroom and at home. First and second language acquisition studies, classroom research findings, Polish, European and international legislation, as well as statistical reports on foreign language learning and teaching show how learners proceed from monolingual to bilingual or plurilingual competence. The book provides an overview of the major issues in the field from the teacher’s perspective, equipping teachers with theoretical underpinnings related to language education, and inviting reflection on individual choices in promoting bi- and multilingualism.

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2. Language – the neurobiological perspective


2. Language – the neurobiological perspective

2.1. The birth of language – language and evolution

Speech gives us valuable information about the functioning of our brain. Although we have other powerful sources of information, such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), speech remains an important window into brain physiology and brain pathology.

Speech is a product of evolution and develops over the course of evolutional changes consisting of the mutation in genetic coding due to selective pressure (Deacon 1997, Marcus 2008). The genotype, the genetic makeup of the nerve cells, engages in interaction with the environment and produces a phenotype, i.e. the group of individual traits of a living organism.

In the animal world, the young have a higher chance of survival if information about the availability of food and about imminent danger reaches them soon enough. As mothers are most often the main sources of this kind of information, the children of better female communicators stand a higher chance of survival.

The beginnings of speech date back to the change from quadrupedal to bipedal movement. Animals using four legs to run need large masses of air in the lungs in order to cushion the shocks resulting from the contact between their legs and the ground. For that reason their necks are short, their tongues are located to the front of their throat, while their nasal and oral cavities are fully separated. A change to two-legged movement reduced...

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