Science Behind Improved Foreign Language Expertise: Meeting the Global Challenge

Sunday, February 20, 2011: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
146A (Washington Convention Center )
"The 'greatest challenge' is the need for officers who can speak the languages of the world,” said John Negroponte, U.S. State Department. "To gather intelligence and understand a complex world, CIA must have more officers who read, speak, and understand foreign languages," said Leon Panetta, CIA. The interdisciplinary language sciences are determining how to spot language “talent,” efficiently train this talent, and assess training and workplace effectiveness. Real government needs and current research programs are presented. Using work crossing the boundaries of cognitive science and second language acquisition, panelists discuss cognitive indicators of language aptitude and new results linking increased proficiency to memory and auditory training. Linguistic typology, psycholinguistics, and psychometrics provide empirically based diagnoses of particular problems posed by strategic languages for adult learners, leading to better pedagogy for these languages and better workplace performance. Neuroscience combined with second language acquisition and psycholinguistics sheds light on discrete stages of language learning and how second language learners differ from native speakers with respect to word- and sentence-level processing. The discussion will focus on relevant scientific advances and insights that lead to reductions in training time and increased job performance by government foreign language professionals.
Amy S. Weinberg, University of Maryland
Gregory Iverson, University of Maryland
Robert O. Slater, National Security Education Program
U.S. Government Strategies To Solve the Global Challenge: History and Prospects
Catherine Doughty, University of Maryland
Cognitive Dimensions of Second Language Expertise
Lee Osterhout, University of Washington
Neuroscience and Second Language Acquisition
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