Daily Archives: November 11, 2016

lets talk about sex…

Yup. Sex, an action that is usually frowned upon to the youth should actually be suggested.

gif Mean Girls coach carr you will get pregnant and die
 One in five american teenagers suffers from depression, this is a struggling time in almost everybody’s life due to emotional, social, and school related stress. This can then lead to anger issues, drug use, and even suicide. Almost 5,000 young people end their own lives each year making it the second leading cause of death for youth in college. I believe this problem could be solved with more confidence spread amongst this group.

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Is there actually an age barrier for learning languages?

I have been learning Chinese for roughly the past six years, irregularly, in high school and now college. I would not call myself fluent in the least, even though I am at a level where I probably know at least half of the standard vocabulary used. I began learning when I was 12 and learningcontinued taking the language for about eight months out of a year for the rest of my time in grade school. So why am I barely fluent in Chinese after so long learning it? Is there actually some sort of metaphysical barrier based on age for learning a second language? Or is it just a slower process, either due to the time spent learning, effort put into learning, or the difficulty of the language?

Before I get into second language learning, I thought I’d look into what it entails to learn a language in the first place. In 1967, linguist Eric Heinz Lenneberg suggested his ‘critical period hypothesis,’ in which he theorized that children must acquire the ability to speak their first language before puberty in order to develop proper understanding and usage of the language. At the time, Lenneberg only had the indirect evidence available to support his hypothesis, although from that evidence (which was the general knowledge of how humans tend to begin learning their first language as toddlers or young children) he was able to suggest a mechanism to his theory; he believed that after maturing, an adult’s brain loses the plasticity it utilized as an adolescent to learn exceptional amounts of information in days or hours at a time. Thus, if language is not learned within that time period, the brain loses the physical ability to adapt to the addition of linguistics.

An anecdotal example of Lenneberg’s hypothesis and mechanism at work, which I learned of in my Psych 100 class, came available to scientists when they discovered Genie the Feral Child in 1970. Genie had been locked away by her abusive father from the age of 20 months, during which she was malnourished, not shown how to use the bathroom, and not allowed to communicate with anyone, outside of her father who would occasionally use negative words like ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ Aged 13 at her rescue, Genie could barely verbally communicate at all, but


Critical Period Theory Diagram

after six months of being hospitalized she was able to communicate at around a four or five-year level – that is, as much as a four or five-year-old can speak. While attempting to develop language abilities, Genie showed some progress with recognizing words, but had more difficulty comprehending them, such as the difference between ‘or’ and ‘and.’ Because of the study, linguists now believe that acquiring language skills early in life is crucial for being able to form grammatically correct sentences. Unfortunately, funding for the study around Genie’s language development was dropped and not much is known after the fact.


Now we know that while it is not impossible to learn language after puberty, it is extremely difficult to practice grammar or comprehend some words or phrases, at least in Genie’s case. To be more relatable to us, though, who have already learned our first language, let’s look into age barriers for learning second languages. In terms of learning a second language, Lenneberg’s critical period hypothesis can be expanded to encompass the secondary learning by stating that while a human mind has a large capacity to learn and comprehend languages, that ability has a negative correlation with age. While age increases, the ability to grasp the workings of a second language decreases. Most studies done in researching the difference between child and adult learning conclude with the acceptance that there is a definite advantage for children than adults, especially in acquiring the correct tone and accent of the second language.

This rings a bell of truth with my own anecdotal experience in learning languages. I had spoken only English for over half of my life, and began studying Chinese after I went through asian-languagespuberty. However, I also find that when I study other languages, like Korean and Japanese, the words, sounds, and grammar come easier to me than Chinese.

While a majority of studies, like those that use Lenneberg’s hypothesis as their base, claim that there is a difference between child and adult second language learning, I did find one study that attempts to refute or rule out possible outcomes of other studies. A bit into their article, they reference research comparing Asian immigrants to the United States, varying in age between 3 and 26. The original study found that there was a consistent decline in ability to learn as the subjects age increased. However, the article critiquing the study noticed that in the visual description of the information, the ability to learn for younger people typically stayed around the trend line, but the older people’s learning ability had a much greater variance, with some performing worse than the younger subjects, and other performing the same or even better.

Based on the evidence I found in these studies, but especially in the last, I believe that learning a second language proficiently can be dependent on age, but is also heavily influenced by an individual’s desire to learn, natural competency with grammatical skill, and the general difficulty of the language being learned. I think in the correct environment, such as in a rigorous classroom or travelling to the country itself, anyone can learn a secondary language if they try hard enough.

In my own case, I believe in the idea that minds are more malleable at a young age, so since I started later I had a disadvantage to begin with. However, I think some people are able to overcome that disadvantage with either a natural aptitude for language learning, or their ability to learn is enhanced by their desire to learn the language. I personally enjoy learning other languages more than Chinese, which, paired with the fact it is one of the more difficult languages to learn, could explain why it can take a very long time for people to become fluent.

Learning Chinese Image

Critical Period Theory Diagram

Comparing Languages Image





Is Coffee the Reason I’m Short?

Standing at a whopping five feet tall, I have not seen a change in my height since 6th grade. Ironically enough, that is when I started drinking coffee. My boyfriend always tries to tell me to stop drinking coffee because it “stunts your growth”. I always tried to tell him that I didn’t believe that and I’m only petite because of my genetics. My parents both aren’t very tall so I’m not very shocked that I’m not either. But being that I am significantly shorter than the two of them and my 16 year old brother, I wanted to see if coffee had any sort of effect on my height.

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The first link that popped up when I typed it into Google was a New York Times article that right from the get-go stated that coffee does NOT stunt your growth. Apparently, this has been a long standing myth. When the New York Times explained where this myth had come from, they said it was probably started due to a claim about caffeine affecting height. Early studies detected that drinking too much caffeine could reduce bone growth and mass and perhaps even cause Osteoporosis (a medical condition in which the bones lose mass/tissue and strength due to a lack of calcium or vitamin D). The article discusses a study in which they tracked children’s caffeine intake for six years. Within this time, they noticed that within the two control groups (one drinking more caffeine than the other), there was no difference in their bone mass/heights. This proves that they don’t believe coffee has any affect on height.

An article from Harvard Health also stated that coffee is not proven to stunt your growth. Some of their reasoning was that at the age that most people begin drinking coffee, they are already at the maximum height they will remain at for the rest of their life. You can’t just undo bone growth by drinking a cup or two of coffee per day. Girls are fully done growing between ages 15-17 and boys are done a little after that but, I know I started drinking coffee much earlier than that so I can still be skeptical. (And like we learned in class, you always should be skeptical). Harvard also makes a great point that drinking coffee won’t make you shorter and not drinking coffee won’t make you taller.

Harvard Health even stated other health benefits of coffee. For instance, it reduces your risk of abnormal heart rhythms, type II diabetes, Alzheimers disease and Parkinson’s disease; just to name a few. As well as these, it can promote healthy weight loss in people and obviously enough giving you an energy boost.

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So, when people try to tell you that coffee stunts your growth, don’t believe it. You are safe from Osteoporosis by taking the proper measures, getting enough calcium/vitamin D and maintaining a healthy diet (for the most part). No need to fear coffee, it is such a popular and loved drink for a reason!! Enjoy it!


Can Money Buy Happiness?

For as long as I can remember I was told the quote “money can’t buy happiness” that happiness comes from other things such as nice friends, family and from having a big heart. But it does not make sense that something that could give you virtually anything doesn’t bring you happiness?


After looking into the topic I came across a study through Cambridge University in which 625 people took a personality test and there were 60 spending categories that matched up to 5 different personality traits on the test. The researchers noticed from the test that those who spent money in the categories related to their personality trait were happier meaning the people that spent money on things related to their personality type had a higher correlation to happiness. Like we discussed in class that correlation does not prove causation, this does not technically mean that buying things you like causes happiness, but they positively correlate with each other.

By having lots of money you have more choices of what to do with that money. Whether it be donating it to charities, buying clothes, puppies, or going on vacation that all brings joy to a person so how could money not buy happiness! There are some confounding variables to that statement being if a person is depressed nothing they buy could make them feel better, or if one is very lonely you can’t necessarily buy a person, but you can buy a dog.

Not having money can be a major stressor on a family. It is used in all aspects of a living environment like how the bills get paid, where the food comes from, how all the necessities such as toiletries are paid for. If there is not enough money in a household to pay for these things then there is definitely not enough for non necessities such as cable, wifi, going shopping, or going on vacation so it’s definitely hard to be in complete happiness without some of these things. Although if you are content in your life without materialistic things then it is definitely possible to be happy without having extra money.

Could there also be reverse causation in the statement that money can buy happiness? Technically yes, because if you are a very happy and joyful person this can give you more job opportunities allowing you to make more money than a person with little to no happiness in there personality.

It is hard to claim whether money does or does not buy happiness because it has a different value on each and every person. Some people strongly value money while others could just use it for the necessities then live without it. There are many families that have all the money they will ever need but are not content with their family life so they do not feel happy. Also there are people with barely enough money to survive but are surrounded by many people that love them so they don’t allow the amount of money they have to effect their happiness.