The 1st “Language Cognition and Development” Lecture Series Held Successfully


On the afternoon of October 20, the Language and Cognition Laboratory hosted the first session of the Language Cognition and Development lectures, also known as the 43rdZijin Lectures. With Prof. YANG Jing moderating, Prof. Thomas H. Bak from the School of Literature, Languages and Cultures at University of Edinburgh gave a lecture entitled “Language Learning as a Lifelong Development”.

Based on his learning experience, Dr. Bak vividly elaborated on how his steady exposure to language learning within his family, education, and work turned him into a multilingual. He emphasized that language learning is a lifelong process, starting from birth and lasting one’s lifetime.

Furthermore, Dr. Bak introduced the cognitive effects of language learning in detail. We typically consider achieving a high level in language proficiency as the primary goal of language acquisition, but language learning and bilingualism have various positive effects on the brain, such as improving attention and enhancing memoryfrom the cognitive perspective. Particularly for the elderly, language learning experiences serve as cognitive training, enabling bilingual individuals to maintain better cognitive function at an old age, which could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Finally, Dr. Bak proposed the Healthy Language Diet model, emphasizing that we should regularly practice different languages at various stages of our lives. Some individuals may achieve a high level of proficiency in certain languages, while only briefly exploring others. Nevertheless, even a modest grasp of different languages contributes to a better understanding of the diversity of languages and their patterns. Ultimately, maintaining a positive and open attitude towards language learning and bilingualism may not only constitute a cognitive reserve in our brains but also contribute to sustaining happiness in our lifetime.

Illustrated with rich visual aids and abundant examples, Dr. Thomas H Bak delivered the lecture in an easy-to-understand manner, which ignited heated discussions among the attendees. In the Q&A session, the attendees raised questions about the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon in the elderly and the impact of language experiences on the memory decline in old age. Drawing from his own experiences, Dr. Bak’s answers greatly benefited all the participants.


Text: ZHOU Xinan

Review: YANG Jing

Translated by HAN Zuojun and CHEN Fanjia, Proofread by XU Xueying

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