Thought and language, concrete and abstract

With a friend – picture in your mind a banana, and then picture ‘freedom’. Compare your mental pictures with your partner’s. Then complete this summary!

And when you’ve finished this, try the next post that looks at 3 theories about how we learn concrete and abstract concepts!

  1. Click the button to open the reading passage and skim read the text.
  2. Fill gaps in the text with words or phrases from the blue box. There are more items than gaps.
  3. Click (or touch) 'Check your answers'.
  • Feedback colours: Correct - Incorrect - Not answered
  • After checking answers you can click highlighted words in the answer key. The reading passage will open with corresponding language highlighted.
  • This activity includes 10 questions.

OK I understand

banana - physical - abstract - meanings - forget - names - easy - brain - concrete - remember - concepts - different - the same

Language allows us to give to things that we can see and touch, but we’re not sure how language allows us to label ideas. If we Google ‘banana’ then we are likely to see pictures that are more or less . However, more abstract words like ‘freedom’ bring up images that are all quite . Science has shown that it is more difficult to learn and abstract concepts because they are processed by different areas of the . Research into how language works tends to focus only on ideas, and this is obviously because concrete concepts such as are easier to learn. It is easy to explain, therefore, how shape our understanding of concrete concepts. However, without experiences as a reference, it is not so easy to explain what abstract concepts are made of.

Language allows us to give names (1) to things that we can see and touch, but we’re not sure how language allows us to label abstract (2) ideas. If we Google ‘banana’ then we are likely to see pictures that are more or less the same (3). However, more abstract words like ‘freedom’ bring up images that are all quite different (4). Science has shown that it is more difficult to learn and remember (5) abstract concepts because they are processed by different areas of the brain (6). Research into how language works tends to focus only on concrete (7) ideas, and this is obviously because concrete concepts such as banana (8) are easier to learn. It is easy to explain, therefore, how meanings (9) shape our understanding of concrete concepts. However, without physical (10) experiences as a reference, it is not so easy to explain what abstract concepts are made of.

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