Neuroplasticity in Early Language Learning (NELL) is a game-based research project funded by DARPA. It’s focus is an interactive game for children ages 6-9 that will immerse them in a naturalistic language environment in order to enhance their ability to distinguish new sounds and structures, helping to ‘prime the brain’ for language learning experiences. Research shows that when specific language learning pathways are established in the brain at an early age, those pathways can facilitate the building of new language connections later in life.
NELL aims to replicate the thinking process that young bilinguals experience: balancing knowledge of two different languages at the same time and having the mental flexibility to choose between them in a given situation. NELL provides players with practice in these mental balancing skills by focusing on a variety of unique sounds and grammatical structures from several stylized languages in order to generalize the learning behaviors involved in natural language acquisition.