A study by the Basque Center for Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) of San Sebastian found that understanding a foreign language is easier than speaking it because the brain spends more resources on understanding spoken and written speech than on speaking.
The study focused on studying laterization changes in brain function when performing various linguistic tasks, such as reading, speaking, or listening in a native language versus the foreign language that the person was studying.
One of the “key findings” is the demonstration that left hemisphere “is key for speaking, reading and listening in the native language ”.
However, when an adult learns another language, “this state persists in speech,” while resources for reading and listening are “drawn from both hemispheres of the brain,” notes BCBL researcher Kshipra Gurunandan.
“This may explain why learning to speak a new language is more difficult than understanding it at a very high level. More brain resources are used for oral and written understanding than for speech, ”he said.
According to the study, in the early stages of learning a foreign language, language systems activate the same area of the brain (left hemisphere), but as competence in the newly acquired language increases, changes in reading comprehension and learning are observed. auditory, which are not in speech.
Studies have shown that language learning in adulthood is associated with the brain’s ability to transform into area of language understandingbut not for production or talking.
“These results also help to better understand how language is organized in the brain and what the consequences of an accident, injury or illness affecting a specific area of the brain could have on various language systems, as well as its possible recovery,” Gurunandan’s notes.
Research published in a prestigious scientific journal Journal of Neurology, lasted for 7 years and was attended by 50 volunteers aged 17 to 60 years.