Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Bilingual Brain: Concluding Thoughts

I have today finished a Coursera course called The Bilingual Brain conducted by Professor Arturo E. Hernandez from the University of Houston System. See also my Friday post about the course.

I know I'm supposed to be reading up on my MBA assignment and be ready for tomorrow's evening class, but I couldn't resist the urge to complete this one instead. Language is something very close to my heart and learning the latest research related to how we humans learn one or two languages and other cognitive skills is too much of a temptation to me. It's better to get The Bilingual Brain out of my system (in a good way, of course!), so that I can free up my mind to tackle my MBA stuff. (I did finish—today—a Pocket Mentor book by Harvard Business Press about Managing Change...)

Coming back to The Bilingual Brain. I really like what the Prof said in his final lecture video for the series. Let's ponder on this for a bit...

"How does the brain process more than one language? And I think a lot of the answers to those types of questions, can be thought of and understood better, when we think about it as a biological process. And we take a biological approach. So rather than thinking that, for example, there's a Spanish, or an English, or a Portuguese, or a German place in my brain, we could think of it as my brain has a state that it's in when I'm speaking one language or the other.

So, rather than thinking about a discreet type of system, one in which we have different places for each language, we can think of language as being a brain state. So, there is no Spanish or English place in my brain. There is a Spanish state and an English state, a configuration of activity that occurs as a wave across my entire brain as I speak one language or the other."

I sat for the final exam today consisting of 59 multiple-choice questions and passed with flying colors!

The course has just been extended to 15 February 2015, so if you're interested to participate, you can still join the class here.


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