“I would find that ten percent of students every year would make wild mistakes,” Wiley explains. “So when I started looking at psychology for my higher education degrees, I was very much motivated by trying to understand how people learn languages.”
His findings were published in the flagship journal for the Association for Psychological Science last July. The study was conducted at Johns Hopkins University, where Wiley completed his doctorate and a Distinguished Science of Learning Fellowship. “A lot of my work there was part of a multisite NIH study on post-stroke aphasia and how strokes cause spelling deficits.”
Wiley next hopes to look at whether the way people write letters impacts their retention.
“How people write letters varies,” he says. “We have all this evidence that handwriting matters – maybe how you write also matters.”
Wiley says these findings may indicate the way many adults learn new languages is flawed.
With the proliferation of apps like Duolingo and even Rosetta Stone, handwriting is lost and that can mean taking longer to learn a new language, he says.
“For adults, if you’re trying to learn a new language, you should really incorporate handwriting.”