What is Perception?
Perception is the process by which the sounds of language are heard, assimilated and understood. Experiments in color perception and language acquisition have proved that different cultures relate to certain colors differently. In India, the color saffron, a bright orange and pink blend, may be related to the color of the cassocks of Hindu holy men. In North America, saffron may connote the shade of purple crocus, golden yellow or a slightly different color. Color perception of water, sky and fire may all be interpreted with very personal image associations. Advanced research studies in cognitive neuroscience show that what your eyes see and what your brain interprets of that sight are entirely two different things.
The phonetic and psycholinguistic research tries to understand how language learners recognize speech language, and how they use it for spoken language. There is knowledge based on perception and derived from perception. George Berkley pioneered the idea that our ideas lead our perception. “The Naïve Realism” theory establishes that “there are real physical objects outside of us and we establish contact with them through perception and action”(see work cited).
Perceptions Related to Language Learning
The native language affects a person’s study of a second language. That test proved that even though word-based perception is highly enhanced in a second language learner, there may be a drawback in internalizing the overall comprehension of a second language.
There are differences in perceptual differentiation. We are more prone to notice differences between categories than sub-categories.
Infant Speech Perception
Infants begin to recognize very small differences between speech sounds and they learn it early in life. That is the reason why adult learners of a second language cannot get the kind of fluency that a young native speaker has.
Sensory and Auditory Perception
The nature of our sensory perceptions and their relation to reality can be dealt with successfully in a language learning atmosphere. Music and sound give an impact on the ear and the brain and the cognition of rhythm, melody and structure gets embedded in the learner’s memory.
People perceive things that they see differently. Goals, wishes, sex, race and gender are perceived as sub-categories in visual perception. Studies in visual perception look at how you can look at beautiful faces, scenery and things and change our stress levels. It even deals with the notion whether we would grow up differently if we live in Asia or in North America. Visual perception becomes a factor in learning concepts of different cultures and traditions.
Language acquisition happens through conscious effort and by imbibing data through different perceptions. When an honest effort is put forward, language acquisition becomes less taxing and more productive. An interest created for language learning and word-based perception helps in understanding concepts and things that were once unfamiliar.
In the early stages, learners will find embarrassing moments and humorous situations. Partnering and clustering learners within classrooms will bring about better results in language acquisition. Students should be involved in games and activities enabling them to compare, sequence, contradict and problem solve with maps, graphs, charts and tables. Reading and writing skills should come fluently without any mental translation in the students’ native tongue. Integrating theatre and music into lesson plans, teachers can see differences in the expressions of learners. As in regular studies, there will be developmental variations in second language acquisition.
Allott, R. (2001) The Natural Origin of Language. Knebworth: Able Publishers.