The social brain of language: grounding second language learning in social interaction

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For centuries, adults may have relied on pedagogies that promote rote memory for the learning of foreign languages through word associations and grammar rules. This contrasts sharply with child language learning which unfolds in socially interactive contexts. In this paper, we advocate an approach to study the social brain of language by grounding second language learning in social interaction. Evidence has accumulated from research in child language, education, and cognitive science pointing to the efficacy and significance of social learning. Work from several recent L2 studies also suggests positive brain changes along with enhanced behavioral outcomes as a result of social learning. Here we provide a blueprint for the brain network underlying social L2 learning, enabling the integration of neurocognitive bases with social cognition of second language while combining theories of language and memory with practical implications for the learning and teaching of a new language in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


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