Tuesday, 5th July

1. Here’s a piece from Nature Neuroscience with no fewer than 24 credited authors, Shared computational principles for language processing in humans and deep language models (DLMs) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41593-022-01026-4.pdf Worth persevering with: not as difficult a read as it might seem at first sight.

“DLMs learn language from real-world textual examples ‘in the wild’, with minimal or no explicit prior knowledge about language structure. Autoregressive DLMs do not parse words into parts of speech or apply explicit syntactic transformations. Rather, they learn to encode a sequence of words into a numerical vector, termed a contextual embedding, from which the model decodes the next word. After learning, the next-word prediction principle allows the generation of well-formed, novel, context-aware texts.” Much the same as we do, apparently! PDF below.

Thanks to EL Gazette for that one – their latest issue is here: https://elgazette.com/elg_archive/ELG2205/mobile/index.html

2. Something we all knew instinctively? Struggling to learn a language? 6 tips on how pop songs can help by a team from Charles Sturt University in Australia in The Conversation https://theconversation.com/struggling-to-learn-a-language-6-tips-on-how-pop-songs-can-help-184642

Includes as an example task the song These Days by a group from South Africa that I’d not heard of before, The Rudimentals, https://youtu.be/UlXPdOuNU3Q

One of the authors’ six tips is, ‘Avoid using textbooks or sources that don’t interest learners or they are less able to relate to.’ Easier said than done for most teachers?

3. Two summaries from the latest OASIS research database update next:

1. Examining non-native second language teachers’ decremental beliefs toward their target language proficiency https://oasis-database.org/concern/summaries/mc87pq83q?locale=en ‘Decremental’ is a new one on me! PDF below.

2. Teachers misunderstanding of translanguaging in preschool https://oasis-database.org/concern/summaries/qz20st15d?locale=en Good intentions on the part of the teachers that seem to have gone well off track. PDF below.

4. And, finally, a wonderful discovery made yesterday, Dancing at Dusk: a moment with Pina Bausch’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ performed on a beach in Senegal by a specially-recruited ensemble of 38 dancers from 14 African countries https://www.sadlerswells.com/digital-stage/dancing-at-dusk-a-moment-with-pina-bauschs-the-rite-of-spring/ Only available till midday UK time on 11th July.

There’s a bit more background to the project from Sarah Crompton of Sadler’s Wells here http://blog.sadlerswells.com/when-the-world-paused-the-dance-continued/ Even in lockdown, you can dance on the beach!

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