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Distinguished Lectures in Humanities: Brain Mechanisms of Second Language Acquisition Through Social Interaction


Prof Hyeonjeong JEONG_1000x540
  • Date

    27 Nov 2023

  • Organiser

    Faculty of Humanities

  • Time

    15:00 - 16:30

  • Venue



The talk will be conducted in English.



Within the realm of second language (L2) acquisition, a pivotal inquiry is how enriched environments, such as real-world communicative scenarios or direct interactions, might amplify L2 proficiency. In my presentation, I will elucidate this through a series of fMRI experiments, illustrating the influence of social learning and interaction on L2 processing and acquisition. First, I will delve into an fMRI study comparing the neural underpinnings of L2 learning in real-life situations (referred to as "social learning") to those of translation-based learning. Social learning inherently integrates both verbal and non-verbal cues, in contrast to the rote memorization that characterizes translation-based learning. Intriguingly, learners who activated the brain's non-verbal processing network demonstrated more effective acquisition and retention of L2 knowledge. Second, I will discuss another fMRI experiment focused on the impact of communication modes, particularly contrasting online face-to-face interactions with offline video recordings, on the neural dynamics during L2 communication. Direct online interactions yielded a more well-rounded and diverse communicative competence compared to offline video sessions. These insights underscore the potential of online engagements in fostering the L2 proficiency essential to our interconnected global landscape. Lastly, recent results from our fMRI studies on L2 emotional processing reveal that using L2 in social settings profoundly impacts the brain's processing of emotional language and also enhances the brain's ability to comprehend the speaker's attitudinal prosody in L2 discourse. Through this talk, I will argue that cognitive neuroscience enables researchers to understand the precise brain mechanisms underlying L2 social learning (LI & JEONG, 2020) and may offer pedagogical implications for L2 learning and teaching.

About the speaker

Hyeonjeong JEONG is a professor in the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies and Department of Human Brain Science at Tohoku University, Japan. Her research interests include brain mechanisms of second language acquisition, particularly the effect of cross-linguistic influence and social cognition in language learning and communication. She currently serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Neurolinguistics, and as an editorial board member of Brain and Language.


 Poster_Prof Hyeonjeong JEONG-02

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