10) This point is irrelevant to my position on bilingual education, as I fully support
early exposure to comprehensible English. But, for the record, Penfield and Roberts'
work was on mapping areas of the brain through stimulation of the cortex, to determine
which areas were responsible for language so they could be avoided in surgery if
possible. Their chapter on language acquisition is pure speculation and has been
supplanted by the research of the last 30 years.
UNZ: For young children, the process of learning a second language through immersion
is identical to the process of learning their own primary language, and is as trivial and
easy. When adults learn a second language through the direct method, i.e. formal
instruction, the process is far more difficult, lengthy, and incomplete.
11) This point is irrelevant to my position on bilingual education, as I fully support
early exposure to comprehensible English. But, for the record, we have documented that
adults go through the same process in language acquisition as children do, and that
"comprehensible input" (language that the acquirer understands) is responsible for
language acqusition in the adult as well as the child. The problem most adults have is that
they have rarely had a chance to get comprehensible input in another language.
Traditional language classes give you very little.
UNZ: This scientific understanding of human language-acquisition has long been settled.
Furthermore, this view has recently been reinforced by experiments which use
magnetic resonance imaging techniques to examine brain activity in bilingual adults. A
paper published in Nature (7/10/97, pp. 171-4), a prestigious international
scientific journal, concluded: Individuals who learn a second language as young children
store that language in the same area of their brain as they do their primary language.
Those who learn a second language as young adults or later, store that language in a
different portion of their brain. This indicates that learning a second language as a child
is functionally similar to learning a first language; for adults, the process is quite
12) Once again, this point is irrelevant to my position on bilingual education, because I
support early exposure to comprehensible input in English. But for the record, the
researchers in Nature found far more similarity than difference between languages
acquired by children and adults. For both, the classical language areas were involved, and
for both, representation in Wernicke's area was identical. There were very small
differences in Broca's area. In my view, this study supports the idea that child and adult
language acquisition are similar.
UNZ: Based on these scientific facts, our current system of "transitional bilingual
education," in which young non-English-speaking children are not heavily exposed to
English until they are in 4th or 5th grades, past the age at which they can easily learn
it, appears utterly bizarre and nonsensical.
13) In good bilingual programs, young children are exposed to a great deal of
comprehensible English quite early. The UC Riverside study that Mr. Unz cited above
reported that by the time children in bilingual education in the Santa Ana district were
in grade three, they were doing about 75% of their math, science, and social studies in