Aphasia is an inability to comprehend or formulate language because of damage to specific brain regions.
This damage is typically caused by a cerebral vascular accident (stroke), or head trauma; however, these are not the only possible causes.
To be diagnosed with aphasia, a person’s speech or language must be significantly impaired in one (or several) of the four communication modalities following acquired brain injury or have significant decline over a short time period (progressive aphasia).
The four communication modalities are :
Reading and writing,
The difficulties of people with aphasia can range from occasional trouble finding words to losing the ability to speak, read, or write; intelligence, however, is unaffected.[
Expressive language and receptive language can both be affected as well. Aphasia also affects visual language such as sign language.
In contrast, the use of formulaic expressions in everyday communication is often preserved.One prevalent deficit in the aphasias is anomia, which is a deficit in word finding ability.
The term aphasia implies that one or more communication modalities in the brain have been damaged and are therefore functioning incorrectly.
Aphasia does not refer to damage to the brain that results in motor or sensory deficits, which produces abnormal speech; that is, aphasia is not related to the mechanics of speech but rather the individual’s language cognition (although a person can have both problems).
An individual’s “language” is the socially shared set of rules as well as the thought processes that go behind verbalized speech.
It is not a result of a more peripheral motor or sensory difficulty, such as paralysis affecting the speech muscles or a general hearing impairment.
Aphasia affects about 2 million people in the US and 250,000 people in Great Britain.
Though nearly 180,000 people in the US acquire the disorder a year, 84.5% of people have never heard of the condition.
Why do learners have difficulties listening in English?
Why do learners have difficulties listening in English ? This is a real problem for learners of English or any foreign language and there are no real shortcuts, but there are many tips, based on common sense that you can try out, which we will see in the next podcast.
The reality is that if the ear doesn’t work, then everything becomes difficult in language learning, although there is a clear difference between listening (which is a somewhat active process) and hearing, which is a passive process.
However, if you cannot hear the range of sounds that make up a language, then it will be almost impossible to have a chance of developing listening skills. The mystery is, why is there so little focus on developing hearing skills, whilst a lot of effort is put into listening skills.
Your brain is also acting like a filter when it hears English sounds, constructions, rythmns or certain syllables. It is filtering out those sounds as foreign which is causing it to completely ignore some of the more important English sounds.
There are typically 120–150 words spoken per minute in normal audio or conversation and that is a lot of information for your brain to process in very short time. You might feel like you are only hearing a few words that you know really well and you are left guessing what the audio means based on a few words, or worse, you may block and filter them out completely.
You may be reading this and thinking this process is really hard work and it might sound like it takes a lot of time. And, yes, you are absolutely right and you are definitely going to go deeper with your listening but you will see results in the end as a reward for your efforts.
Why we struggle learning languages, the only barrier to learning a language is memory.
The process of language learning is the process of forming memories. Nothing more, nothing less. If you understand that, and you understand how memories are formed, then you can make progress in a way you’ve never dreamed possible before.
Gabriel Wyner is an author, opera singer and polyglot based in Chicago. After reaching fluency in German in 14 weeks with the help of the immersive Middlebury Language Schools, he fell in love with the process of language learning, going on to spend two months in intensive Italian courses in Perugia, Italy.
Searching for ways to bring the immersion experience into the home, he began to develop a system that rapidly builds fluency in short, daily sessions. In 2010, his efforts paid off. He learned French to fluency in 5 months, and then Russian in 10 months.
Born in Los Angeles, he graduated summa cum laude in 2007 from the University of Southern California with dual degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Vocal Arts Performance, and was awarded the Renaissance Scholar’s prize for excellence in unrelated disciplines. He then moved to Vienna to pursue triple Master’s degrees at the Konservatorium Wien in Opera, Lieder and Voice, and graduated with honors in 2011.
Currently learning Japanese, he’s learned Hungarian and Spanish over the last few years.
His book on language learning – Fluent Forever: How to learn any language fast and never forget it – was published on August 5, 2014 (Harmony/Random House). His most recent project has been the development of a new language learning tool, which became the most successful Kickstarter for an app in history in September of 2017.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.