Suppose that you have a student that is bilingual. Take for example that the student speaks Chinese and English. Suppose that said student is very fluent in Chinese, but not so fluent in English. He/she can hold everyday conversations in English but he/she has a really hard time reading an English newspaper or magazine (i.e. Wall Street Journal and Times). Suppose that you are trying to teach English vocabulary to said student. Would you teach said student:

  1. New English vocabulary using English words that he already knows, or
  2. New English vocabulary by using translated Chinese?

Is there some research that is related to such scenario?

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    $\begingroup$ The first method (learning new English words by using words he already knows) sounds like immersion learning. This question is related. $\endgroup$ – Josh de Leeuw Jun 9 '14 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ How would you expect such an experiment would be designed to disentangle these two approaches? Typically, when learning a language, a mix of both approaches is used. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jul 29 '17 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ Neuro-Semantics is a lot more complicated than "providing a definition" of a word, or even a translation. What actually happens is an ontological, lexical, structure, (virtual(??)), being constructed. What this means is that associations are made in the forms of "disjunctions", "synonyms", "sets", "abstractions", and on, and on. It is far easier to learn words in a native language. But, it is far more effective when reinforced by learning another language. The problem here is - what do you mean by "better", "speed of language acquisition" or "effective use of language"? $\endgroup$ – elika kohen Aug 1 '17 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ Also: I said "virtual structures" to ask if your question is applying to children, or adults. In children neuro-plasticity is significant - so it is considered best to take advantage of concurrent language learning in childhood, (regardless of acquisition or effectiveness). But in adults, it is arguable that neural frameworks that support these ontological structures are virtual, rather than structural - which lends to single language learning, (immersion). Are you actually speaking of child students? Neuro-Plasticity is incredibly relevant to the question. $\endgroup$ – elika kohen Aug 1 '17 at 20:17

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