Adolescent Brain Health - Part 1 of 3 [Executive Functioning]

This next sector of three blogs will be to help you, the parent, to understand how much DEPTH the simple act of learning Spanish (or any second spoken language) will add to your pre teen or teen's brain health. (And yours too!)

Part ONE:
Learning a second language is SO much more than verb conjugation charts  and lists of vocabulary words. When the brain starts categorizing and creating meaning and then PUSHES that meaning forth, all SORTS of shifting and cognition happens in the brain. It's not unlike learning to dribble a ball, ride a bike, or row a boat. The motions begin haltingly, and then become smoother, more confident, until the entire event is second nature without thought. The second sport or attempt at an athletic move is much easier because of the experience of the first. Learning a language is like that first sport. Here are three areas that improve based on USING a new language (not just memorizing colors and numbers.)

Executive functioning - First, let's define this term - "Executive functioning (EF) is an umbrella term for the various complex cognitive processes that are responsible for cognitive control of thoughts and actions that are necessary to maintain goal-directed behavior in pursuit of the attainment of future goals." 

Without executive functioning skills, the chances are quite great for our cables to be crossed, as you see in the pic here.... quite a mess, and hard to get back on track without some sort of mapping.

Does this sound like something your teen may be lacking in? Of course! They are still growing and need help with time management, setting goals, progressing, organizing, and thinking through options. Learning a second language, and USING it, opens up synapses and pathways that are otherwise dead. As they organize their new words to flow out of their mouth and create a thought they want to share with others, especially if it's an opinion, then emotion and success is attained and those pathways become stronger. This allows for more categorizing, organizational thought, and procedures to happen in their minds in other arenas, not just in language. To attain this, you'll want your student to spend at least five minutes per day on practicing vocabulary in a meaningful way. This does NOT include touching a picture or tapping an icon. A meaningful way means to describe the item, decide if you like it more or less than something else, or telling someone what you would do with the item. Create a thought. Here's an example:

Quiero (I want...) the item

No quiero (I don't want) the item.

Quiero vender/comprar (I want to sell or to buy) the item. 

The item es feo/bonito (is ugly or pretty.)


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