Neural foundations of creativity in foreign language acquisition


This article focuses on the subject of several independent sciences, in particular linguistics and language didactics, as well as interdisciplinary research: the acquisition of creative foreign language competences. Whereas creativity is a very complex concept and very difficult to describe, it is most commonly explained with the help of examples. Due to recent technological progress, imaging methods are now able to show where creative activity, especially linguistic creativity, is located in the human brain and where it might possibly originate. The following article presents recently collected data from language acquisition-related neuroscientific studies in contrast to existing findings of language acquisition research as well as implicit language acquisition. Subsequently, all findings are used in order to draw conclusions about general as well as specific language didactics. In addition, a second goal is the demystification of apparently unproductive and unfocused states, which are wrongly stigmatised and unfairly seen as wasted time in institutionalised contexts. The results of this article, therefore, try to make those situations available again for goal-oriented foreign language acquisition.

KEYWORDS: neuroscience, language acquisition, implicit language learning, mind-wandering, Attention Mode Network, Default Mode Network

HEINER BÖTTGER. Full Professor of English Didactics and EFL at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany. Chairman of the Early Language Learning Advisory Board, founded in Munich. Present research mainly focuses on the preconditions for language learning and the role of memory within the language acquisition process. Explores how children develop communicative competences, which language strategies they use and when, the brain processes underlying language development and the jigsaw pieces for acquiring three or more languages. Has published over 150 papers on English didactics and language research.

DEBORAH KÖLTZSCH. Research assistant and doctoral candidate at Heiner Böttger’s LEARLab at Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt. Currently completing her teacher training as well as her master’s thesis on exploring the neural Default Mode Network. Using mobile eyetracking and EEG devices, she also focuses on aspects of synchronisation in communication. Prospectively, will focus on studying bilingualism and multilingualism.

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