10th International Conference on Multilingualism and Third Language Acquisition, on September 1-3, 2016, at the University of Vienna, Austria.
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
Learning vocabulary in a foreign language is a laborious task which people perform with varying levels of success. Here, we investigated the neural underpinning of high performance on this task. In a within-subjects paradigm, participants learned ninety-two vocabulary items under two multimodal conditions: One condition paired novel words with iconic gestures, and the other with meaningless gestures. Memory performance was assessed through single word translation tests. High performers consistently learned more items than low performers, regardless of the training condition, the time and the difficulty of the task. Brain activity measured upon word recognition using fMRI was parametrically related to the behavioural data. High performance correlated with activity in the left angular gyrus (BA 39) and in the right extrastriate cortex (BA 19). These cortical areas mediate integration of information across different modalities as well as memory processes. Thus, high performance in vocabulary learning seems to depend on individual capacities to integrate and associate a word?s semantics with sensorial stimuli. In a new line of experiments we introduced a new generation of language trainers: intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) with human appearance and the capability to teach foreign language vocabulary. First results show that ?virtual teachers? can enhance individualized language learning. This will enable people around the world, including physically, financially, and geographically disadvantaged persons, to learn a foreign language and help to facilitate multilingualism.