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A Neurobiological Theory and Method of Language Acquisition
Munich: LINCOM EUROPA, 2003
300 pp. 200+ references. Fully Indexed. ISBN 3-89586-763-2

2007 Neurobiological Learning Society Choice

What reviewers are saying:

"Fascinating, provocative, and insightful....a compelling theory of the neurobiological basis for language acquisition...one does not have to be a scientist to understand it...essential reading for teachers..." - Gerald Curtis PhD, Columbia University

"Brilliant, fresh...a new, in depth rationale and standards for effective learning...required reading for military and civilian physicians, nurses, psychologists, counsellors, educators, and, yes, linguists, too."   - Dr. Jan Nyboer, MD (R. Admiral, USNR Retired)

"...twinkles with a penchant for asking impertinent questions and doubting even the most well-accepted assumptions...a breakneck rollercoaster tour through the neurology, psychology, and psychotherapy of brain functions...a wake-up call...this book offers a helpful map of this new landscape." - Prof. Terrence Deacon, U C Berkeley, Department of Anthropology and Wills Neuroscience Institute, author of “The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain" (W. W. Norton, 1997).

FULL REVIEW:

"I rate this book a '10' on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is an 'Absolute Must Read!'

Some books are just that. This one is destined to become a classic. The back cover states, "This book is not about teaching - it's about EFFECTIVE learning from a new perspective..." I beg to differ - it's about a whole new perspective in learning and teaching, one that has the depth and foundation to rewrite how institutions teach and students learn.

Written by a physician-educator turned linguist, it is a synthesis of what the author calls the "German" school of neurobiological (biological-based) learning. Beginning with the Socratic-Platonic schism in learning and teaching, it spans 20 centuries of work by biologically and medically trained educators and linguists, culling out the myriads of contemporary 'fashion' theories and methods, while integrating the latest medical imaging information and linguistic theories into what the author identifies as "a single, unified, underlying theory of learning." After struggling through this book, (and yes, it is admittedly a struggle for readers with a limited background in the workings of the human body), I must agree. The ideas propounded in this work take us nearer to the fundamental unified theory of learning we educators have been seeking.

Dr. Janik's unique ability to bring together the threads of traditionally disparate academic disciplines into a tightly knit tapestry of neurobiologically-based learning makes for an intensely rich and substantive reading experience. The book is an academician's treasure trove of data and information, with over 300 references to works spanning the many disciplines that contribute to this "unified theory" of learning. It's no surprise that Dr. Janik's book was chosen by the publisher as the first tome launching a new series on Neurobiological Learning.

The book is arranged in 13 chapters, beginning with "The Need for a New Learning Methodology," and develops neurobiological learning from an entirely novel foundation: that of effective (traumatic) learning. Dr. Janik's premise is that if one could understand the neurobiological processes involved in traumatic learning (one of the most effective forms of learning known), new light might be shed on traditional teaching and learning. That it clearly does, and in a manner that belies and eventually supplants its closest cousins, psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic theory. One of the outstanding strengths to this new theory is that from beginning to end it remains grounded in the physical body, rather than pure ideations. For example, while visiting Freud's concept of 'ego'-based cognition, Janik points out that while both intriguing and useful, it is not locatable in any particular brain structure, location or process. Janik, in replacing 'ego' with a more discrete entity, 'personal cognition,' which can be located within distinct areas of the brain during brain imaging, adroitly repositioning Freudian psychology back within the neurobiological fold.

Dr. Janik's seminal work is a 'must read' not only for linguists, but also for educators, teachers, counselors, therapists, psychologists, physicians...anyone interested in extending their mental and functional frameworks of thought and practice. My advice: Waste no time in pursuing a profound and revolutionary challenge to the status quo of lacunae-ridden learning theories by diving into this innovatory text!   - Joel Weaver MA TESOL (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Director, Intercultural Communications College, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

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Last updated 1 July 2004
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