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Language is an important tool for storing, organizing, and retrieving information that has been acquired throughout one’s life, as well as for thinking, modifying, and sharing such information with others. Thus, there are many questions researchers ask about language and its use. For this assignment, complete the steps listed below:

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  • Select one of the following topics:
    • Recent research has shown that bilingualism shapes the human mind. What are some of the short-term and/or long-term consequences of bilingualism on information processing? Include at least two sets of findings (e.g., speed of processing and vocabulary size) in your paper.
    • Human language is more than a communication system. What are the unique properties of human language that make it different from communication systems used by other species?
    • Most of language use in adults relies on reading, an ability that is often acquired later in life than the ability to speak and understand speech in one’s primary language. Why is learning how to read more challenging than learning how to speak in one’s primary language?
    • Ambiguities in the meaning of words and phrases are far from rare occurrences. Yet, both speakers and listeners (or readers) often do not appear to notice them. What are these ambiguities, and why do they often go unnoticed?
    • Can you “forget” words in your first language while you are learning a second language? Summarize the available evidence to explain your answer.
    • What do speech errors reveal about the way people think?
    • More than half a century ago, two researchers, Noam Chomsky and B. F. Skinner, debated the role of nature and nurture in language acquisition. What was the viewpoint of each researcher?  What was the evidence upon which their contrasting viewpoints relied?
    • Can other species learn human language? If so, is it really language? In your answer, you may consider cetaceans, birds, and chimpanzees.
  • Review the literature on the selected topic.  For each topic, use at least two peer-reviewed articles that can answer the question(s) related to it.

Engage your critical thinking skills. Carefully summarize the evidence you have found and then critically examine it. For instance, ask yourself if the available evidence is sufficient to support the interpretations that researchers have proposed, and/or whether there are ambiguities and unknowns.

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