Research Topic

Second Language Learning and Neuroplasticity: Individual Differences

About this Research Topic

There are many more bilinguals or multilinguals than monolinguals nowadays. Research on neurocognitive changes associated with second language learning started in the 1990s and mainly focused on the neural representations of the first language (L1) and second language (L2) in the bilingual brain. Since the early 2000s, there has been an increase in the number of longitudinal studies tracking brain changes associated with L2 learning and identifying neurocognitive predictors for L2 learning success. The past decade has witnessed remarkable progress in understanding how L2 learning induces functional and structural changes in the bilingual brain, either in lab-based training or natural classroom settings. Since studies on L2 learning share the general pedagogical goal to boost second language education, it is essential to identify individual differences in second language learning and the associated brain mechanism.

In this new era, bilingualism (or multilingualism) is regarded as a spectrum of experiences that develop overtime. Research on second language learning is needed to disentangle the relative contributions of those diverse experiences and their different influences on brain structure and function. Neuroplasticity associated with L2 learning should also be examined across different populations, not just in adult learners. Neural correlates for learning success of L2 grammars as well as L2 vocabulary learning should be consistently examined for the understanding of L2 learning-related neuroplasticity. Finally, a few studies on augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR)-assisted L2 learning suggested individual differences in the sensitivity to those learning contexts. We need to understand how those individual differences lead to their distinct learning performance so that in the real education situation we could maximize their advantages and minimize their disadvantages in L2 learning.

This proposed Research Topic commits to compiling a set of papers that investigate individual differences in L2 learning and the neural correlates. With that goal in mind, we welcome and encourage submissions with (but not limited to) the following key aspects to studies:
• Using MRI (fMRI, DTI, sMRI), EEG, ERPs, MEG, fNIRS, and/or eye-tracking methods to examine neuroplasticity induced by second language learning;
• Focusing on learner’s individual differences in cognitive abilities or language experiences, and examining the relationships between those individual differences and second language learning-related neuroplasticity;
• Tracing the brain changes along with second language learning or comparing learners at different developmental stages of second language learning;
• Exploring individual differences in second language learning via Computer-aided or AR techniques, and the underlying neural mechanism.


Keywords: Language learning, Neuroplasticity, Bilingualism, Individual differences, Second language education


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

There are many more bilinguals or multilinguals than monolinguals nowadays. Research on neurocognitive changes associated with second language learning started in the 1990s and mainly focused on the neural representations of the first language (L1) and second language (L2) in the bilingual brain. Since the early 2000s, there has been an increase in the number of longitudinal studies tracking brain changes associated with L2 learning and identifying neurocognitive predictors for L2 learning success. The past decade has witnessed remarkable progress in understanding how L2 learning induces functional and structural changes in the bilingual brain, either in lab-based training or natural classroom settings. Since studies on L2 learning share the general pedagogical goal to boost second language education, it is essential to identify individual differences in second language learning and the associated brain mechanism.

In this new era, bilingualism (or multilingualism) is regarded as a spectrum of experiences that develop overtime. Research on second language learning is needed to disentangle the relative contributions of those diverse experiences and their different influences on brain structure and function. Neuroplasticity associated with L2 learning should also be examined across different populations, not just in adult learners. Neural correlates for learning success of L2 grammars as well as L2 vocabulary learning should be consistently examined for the understanding of L2 learning-related neuroplasticity. Finally, a few studies on augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR)-assisted L2 learning suggested individual differences in the sensitivity to those learning contexts. We need to understand how those individual differences lead to their distinct learning performance so that in the real education situation we could maximize their advantages and minimize their disadvantages in L2 learning.

This proposed Research Topic commits to compiling a set of papers that investigate individual differences in L2 learning and the neural correlates. With that goal in mind, we welcome and encourage submissions with (but not limited to) the following key aspects to studies:
• Using MRI (fMRI, DTI, sMRI), EEG, ERPs, MEG, fNIRS, and/or eye-tracking methods to examine neuroplasticity induced by second language learning;
• Focusing on learner’s individual differences in cognitive abilities or language experiences, and examining the relationships between those individual differences and second language learning-related neuroplasticity;
• Tracing the brain changes along with second language learning or comparing learners at different developmental stages of second language learning;
• Exploring individual differences in second language learning via Computer-aided or AR techniques, and the underlying neural mechanism.


Keywords: Language learning, Neuroplasticity, Bilingualism, Individual differences, Second language education


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
31 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
31 October 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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