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Think in foreign languages to a good effect

2014-10-21 Straits TimesThinking in a foreign language to good effect

Learn continuously a foreign language aggresively and we would be able to raise the power of expressions – for both writing and speaking – in mother languages as well.

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The following is excerpted from an article in The Economist of May 17, 2014, titled [Language and morality – When moral dilemmas are posed in a foreign language, people become more coolly utilitarian]:

Dr. Costa (Albert Costa of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain) and his colleagues hypothesise that, while fluent speakers can form sentences effortlessly, the merely competent must spend more brainpower, and reason much more carefully, when operating in their less-familiar tongue. And that kind of thinking helps to provide psychological and emotional distance, in much the same way that replacing the fat man with a switch does. As further support for that idea, the researchers note that the effect of speaking the foreign language became smaller as the speaker’s familiarity with it increased. . . . Big firms are making English their internal language, even if it is not the native tongue of most of their workers. Meetings of international organisations like the United Nations or the European Union are often conducted in languages that are not the preferred ones of most of those attending.

For further detail, pleased be advised to visit and enter keywords such as Albert Costa, recognition science; the translated in Japanese is available on page 15 at the August 2014 print edition of Courrier Japon (

In light of my long-term study on English as a foreign language, I can comprehend this article from my point of view that it may sometimes be easier for me to form sentences in English than in Japanese.

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