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Dolphins become bilingual in their sleep. What does that mean for us humans?

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At the Planète Sauvage in Port-Saint-Père, France in 2011 it was observed that captive dolphins were talking in their sleep. While sleep-talking in general can be rather alarming, what made this even stranger was that they weren’t speaking the same dolphin language they speak during their waking hours. Instead they the sounds were closer to a whale language!

For their entire lives, these dolphins were raised in captivity and so it was not possible for any of these dolphins to have met a whale, let alone learn how to speak in the same tongue.

The dolphins spend much of the time during their days performing in shows aimed at educating the audience about dolphins. At the

Some dolphins hang out under the water.

beginning of these shows there is an audio montage including sounds of the sea such as seagulls, dolphin whistles and whale sounds.

Since this recording was the only time that the dolphins were being exposed to whale sound, it started to seem possible that the sounds the dolphins were making in their sleep was actually them rehearsing the performances in their sleep. The dolphins never made these sounds during the day, close in time to the performances themselves. Why the great difference in time between hearing and replicating the sounds?

These studies have allowed the scientific community to better understand how language and memory relate to each other in aquatic animals and understanding this can also greatly aid in our understanding of the relationship between our own sleep and episodic memory. Episodic memory is another way of describing the memories that you make during the day. At night these memories get integrated into your long-term memory. This is also known as memory integration and this is what makes it possible for you to retain information and as a result

, what allows you to learn a language.

Make sure to get a lot of sleep after your French class at the Alliance Française de Chicago and learn French in your sleep!

 

Sources:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/dolphins-speak-language-human-communication-scientists-a7237791.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2091420/Voulez-vous-couchez-avec-moi-Dolphins-smart-speak-Whale–sleep.html

Kremers et al. (2011)   http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00386/full

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=20182945&dopt=abstractplus

How music can aid in language learning

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Here at the Alliance Francaise we are always interested in learning about new ways to acquire language. So when we found this article we thought you could be interested too!

Cap Enfants, a network of nursery schools in France is taking a unique approach to develop the listening skills of toddlers. They believe that exposing children to different rhythms in infancy allows them to better understand languages in life.

This intent is related to a study by the Institute of Learning and Brain Science for the University of Washington that discusses the relationship between musical rhythms and language rhythms. The study looked at the neural responses of 9 month old infants after they were exposed to music. It found that infants exposed to music were more sensitive to changes in rhythm in both speech and music than infants who were not.
At the Cap Enfants,the centerpiece of the nursery playroom is occupied by a colorful igloo-like “La Bulle Musicale” that was designed to bathe the children in sounds from all angles. They hope that by exposing the children to a variety of sounds and rhythms early in life it might make it easy for them to be more perceptive of languages, both mother-tongue and otherwise. It was designed by a team made up of an early childhood educator and a sound engineer.

At the Alliance we love singing! Come see for yourself and enroll your child in our Chez Kids Academy classes. If you would just like to learn more about us, come to our Kids’ Open House on Saturday, February 4th.

To read more about Cap Enfants and the Bulle Musicale read the original article.

AF Student Spotlight: Dennis Smithenry

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AF Student Spotlight: Dennis Smithenry

 

When Dennis Smithenry learned that his ancestors were from Alsace, France, he became motivated to learn French in honor of his family heritage. His journey at the Alliance Française de Chicago began in 2012 when he became a member and started taking French classes.

Growing up in southern Illinois on a farm, his community did not place much value on learning foreign languages. Before starting French classes at the Alliance, Dennis had only taken French in high school, where the curriculum was more focused on writing than speaking. Dennis now benefits from a more well-rounded approach to learning French. “I try to balance the main four: listening, speaking, writing, and reading,” he says.

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An education professor at Elmhurst College, Dennis is passionate about learning. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Dennis also conducted postdoctoral research in environmental engineering and science education at Stanford University. You can view his professor bio here.

During his sabbatical, Dennis has been able to combine his academic interests with his love for French by presenting his research in French at a conference in Montréal. Dennis attended the Congrès de l’ACFAS (Association francophonie pour le savoir) from May 9 to May 13, 2016.

In his 25-minute presentation, entitled “Conceptualisation et enseignement – planifier et enseigner à partir des concepts,” he discussed how to plan a course from start to finish, and also, how to teach a student to plan courses effectively. One of the main ideas that Dennis covered was “macro-planification à rebours,” or backwards planning. This method involves starting with the end, or the learning, first. Then, a teacher designs an effective course from start to finish based on the desired end result.

Dennis loved being immersed in the French language while he was in Montréal, both at the conference and with a language partner that he met online. He went to see a play in French and also conversed in French with his AirBnB host. He is thankful for the experience.

For four years, Dennis has been dedicated to taking French classes at the Alliance and learning French in his free time as a hobby. “I think this speaks to the well-thought-out program,” he says. “The books build off of one another very well and the curriculum is more focused on speaking French rather than just writing it.”

Dennis said that he is often critical of curriculum and pedagogical techniques because he specializes in education. However, he believes that the pedagogy at the Alliance Française de Chicago is extremely effective.

He enjoys how challenging the French language can be and looks forward to continuing his studies.”Language learning is a puzzle,” he says. “The more you learn, the more complex it becomes.”

 

 

Yet another reason why French is great…or 5 actually!

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”There are good reasons for learning other languages. As scientists unlock more of the neurological secrets of the brain, they’re learning that speaking more than one language may have cognitive benefits that extend from childhood into old age. In business, knowing the language of the team on the other side of the table can make a huge difference. Diplomacy work claims capable linguists. In fact, virtually any career, public or private, is given a boost with knowledge of a foreign language.

But why French?”  ==> Here is the answer!