Language courses at Baylor are notorious for being fast paced and difficult. As members of a higher-level institution, most, if not all, majors have to take at least two semesters of a foreign language.
As in any other class, students are expected to keep up with the instructor, but it is often clear that some students are able to pick up languages much faster than others.
Many of those less skilled at languages, including myself, find this frustrating and turn to long study sessions or tutors to solve the problem. Regardless of the study adaptations or time set aside for language, some students are able to better retain foreign language concepts and vocabulary.
In a recent study, researchers found that people who labor to learn foreign languages have brains that are wired differently.
According to scientists at McGill University in Canada, the amount that the left superior temporal gyrus and the left anterior operculum communicate with each other when at rest determines whether or not language learning will be easy for you. In less technical terms, if your brain is more active in parts of your brain while you are asleep, your retention will be higher.
In the study, 15 adults who were native English speakers had their brains scanned before beginning a 12-week French course. The participants were tested again after the course. Those with stronger connections between the left anterior and temporal gyrus proved more skilled in a speaking test.
With this knowledge, those who have trouble can point the finger of blame at their genes. However, since the discovery of this knowledge, more studies may begin in the specialization of teaching methods to help people learn.
Personally, I have attempted to learn three foreign languages, and none of those have been particularly easy for me. This always causes me to call into question my intelligence, rather than my study habits or the level of language I am enrolled in.
Although I may be wrongfully self-assessing my brain’s wiring, it is always comforting to have a source that reminds you that not all people have the same minds. Often, people who have difficulties in a subject find themselves passing with flying colors in a class on the opposite end of the spectrum, much like those who excel in writing and struggle in their basic math courses.
Intelligence is not something that can completely be measured by one simple subject, or even school in general. While it is in your best interest to take the extra tutor class in the language you are struggling through, it is not a task to be ashamed of.
In closing, I ask those who struggle in Spanish, Russian, Bio-Chem (it may as well be a different language) etc., to take heart. You may need to spend a few extra hours on flashcards than the girl who sits next to you, or pronounce the word “viajeros” an extra 20 times before the word comes out sounding less Texan, but you will survive your foreign language class. Not only that, but you will do it with your self-worth and intelligence in tact.
Liesje Powers is a freshman journalism major from Hewitt. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.