By Sandra Levey, PhD
November 27, 2019

Human language is integrated with a range of neural processes. Language plays a central role in the human brain in: processing color, making judgments, maintaining focus and attention, orientating to time and place, processing and recalling events, encoding and labeling smells and sounds, expressing emotions, and processing experiences. Its study involves understanding culture, background, emotions, and its role in learning. However, learning depends on the development of neural networks as language users encounter new events and experiences. Thus, speech and language skills develop as external stimulation influences the brain.

Based on a child’s experiences, specific neural pathways develop. Neural pathways associated with behaviors that are repeated more frequently will be strengthened and reinforced. Consequently, rich and frequent interaction plays a positive role in children’s language development.

The human brain controls movements essential for speech, language, thought, planning, and learning. Consequently, understanding the connection between the brain and articulation, language, hearing, and cognitive skills is essential. Focusing only on physical elements, such as movements of the oral and vocal apparatus, ignores the role of the brain in speech, articulation, and language.

Developing a comprehensive understanding of language involves the integration of all aspects of language function. To provide a complete picture of language, its functioning in speaking, hearing, reading, and writing must be integrated.

There are a growing number of individuals across the globe who are often bilingual or multilingual language speakers. It is important to understand the positive aspects of bilingualism and multilingualism. Strengths are found in the frequent need to switch between two languages, requiring a sustained attention span and focus. Therefore, we find that learning a new language can take time, whereas greater exposure to a new language has a positive effect on learning.