How Discrimination Nearly Stalled a Dual-Language Program in Boston – The Atlantic

“Dual-language programs have been growing in popularity nationally for several years now, spurred on by demand among native speakers of common languages as well as monolingual English speakers who want all the benefits that come from bilingualism.

In Boston, however, it has taken a long time to get enough people—and the right people—to agree Haitian Creole deserved to join Spanish in the public schools’ dual-language program. And it wasn’t only district administrators who had to be convinced. The Haitian community wasn’t entirely on board, either.

“Brain research has shown people who are bilingual perform better on a range of cognitive tasks, and long-term studies of students in dual-language programs show they score higher than their peers on standardized tests by middle school. When it comes to students who show up to school speaking a language other than English, dual-language programs that pair English with their native language have been the only ones shown to remove stubborn achievement gaps between these students and their native-English-speaking peers, according to the leading dual-language researchers Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas.”

Source: How Discrimination Nearly Stalled a Dual-Language Program in Boston

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Dual Language Programs on the Rise: “Enrichment” model puts content learning front and center for ELL students

“[T]he dual language program has boosted involvement by Latino parents, which has long concerned school officials here. It has also created more opportunities for cross-cultural appreciation and made Spanish a language that is an important part of the school, not something to try to ignore, she says.”

Source: Home

Harvard Education Letter
Volume 27, Number 2
March/April 2011

by DAVID MCKAY WILSON

Breaking Down Our Bilingual Double Standard | GOOD

“Speaking at least two languages is known to improve multitasking and problem-solving skills, lead to greater future job opportunities, reduce once’s risk for dementia in later years, and give children insight into other cultures as they explore different cultural identities within themselves. And when a privileged child enriches her education by adding a second language—known as “additive bilingualism”—it’s generally acknowledged to be a positive, even prestigious, endeavor. But this isn’t the case when it comes to “subtractive bilingualism,” when a new language supplants the language spoken at home.” Read more of the article by Karen Emslie here.

Source: Breaking Down Our Bilingual Double Standard | GOOD.

Language study: Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? | The Economist

“…changes in educational structures can have dynamic effects on entire economies. A list of the richest countries in the world is dominated by open, trade-driven economies. Oil economies aside, the top 10 includes countries where trilingualism is typical, like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, and small countries like the Scandinavian ones, where English knowledge is excellent.

There are of course many reasons that such countries are rich. But a willingness to learn about export markets, and their languages, is a plausible candidate. One study, led byJames Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School, has estimated that lack of foreign-language proficiency in Britain costs the economy £48 billion ($80 billion), or 3.5% of GDP, each year. Even if that number is high, the cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. So if Mr Saiz had run his language-premium study against a parallel-universe America, in which the last half-century had been a golden age of language-learning, he might have found a bigger foreign-language bonus (and a bigger GDP pie to divide) in that more open and export-oriented fantasy America. And of course greater investment in foreign-language teaching would have other dynamic effects: more and better teachers and materials, plus a cultural premium on multilingualism, means more people will actually master a language, rather than wasting several years never getting past la plume de ma tante, as happens in Britain and America.”

Source: Language study: Johnson: What is a foreign language worth? | The Economist.

The Benefits of Multilingualism by Jared Diamond

“Our minds are assaulted by varied sights, sounds, and other external sensory inputs, plus thoughts and proprioreceptive sensations (which make us aware of the relative positions of our own body parts) (see the figure). To succeed in doing anything at all, we must temporarily inhibit 99% of those inputs and attend to just 1% of them, and the appropriate choice varies with the circumstances. That selective attention involves a set of processes, termed executive function, that reside in the prefrontal cortex and develop especially over the first 5 years of life (9)
[…] As a result, multilinguals have constant unconscious practice in using the executive function system.”

Source: The Benefits of Multilingualism by Jared Diamond | ScienceMag.org

How to Parent Like a German | TIME

“The first time I went to a playground in Berlin, I freaked. All the German parents were huddled together, drinking coffee, not paying attention to their children who were hanging off a wooden dragon 20 feet above a sand pit. Where were the piles of soft padded foam? The liability notices? The personal injury lawyers? […]

Here are a few surprising things Berlin parents do:

Don’t push reading. Berlin’s kindergartens or “kitas” don’t emphasize academics. In fact, teachers and other parents discouraged me from teaching my children to read. I was told it was something special the kids learn together when they start grade school. Kindergarten was a time for play and social learning. But even in first grade, academics aren’t pushed very hard. Our grade school provides a half-day of instruction interrupted by two (two!) outdoor recesses. But don’t think this relaxed approach means a poor education: According to a 2012 assessment by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, German 15-year-olds perform well above the international average when it comes to reading, math and science while their more pressured American counterparts lag behind. […] Continue reading “How to Parent Like a German | TIME”

Americans suffer from inadequate foreign language education | The Daily Texan

“The United States is largely monolingual. In fact, only about 15-20 percent of Americans consider themselves bilingual, compared to 56 percent of Europeans surveyed in 2006 by the European Commission. […]

The United States used to take a much friendlier view toward bilingualism. In the 19th century, immigrant communities maintained — and even published in — their native languages, and educational policies were generally tolerant of this linguistic diversity. However, ideologies began to change in the 1880s, with a huge influx of non-English-speaking immigrants and developing reactionary nationalist movements. Eventually, this change in ideology led to a movement of “Americanization,” which adopted a push for English as a linguistic identifier of the “American.” As World War I raged, English monolingualism became synonymous with support for the U.S. Eventually, legislation removed foreign language instruction from most elementary schools.

This lack of foreign language education for children persists to this day, despite much research suggesting that bilingualism has a significant positive effect on children’s linguistic, cognitive and educational development. The benefits of bilingualism are not just cognitive: Hebrew professor Adi Raz said that knowledge of a foreign language provides huge cultural benefits.

“We don’t just teach language but also culture. By doing so we emphasize the importance of understanding the ‘other,’” Raz said.

[…] Although there may be no quick fix for the poor motivation and lack of interest in foreign language courses on campus, we are the future leaders, legislators and teachers who can make a difference in the way language is taught in the United States.”

[Lauren] Franklin is a Plan II, linguistics and Middle Eastern languages and cultures senior from Sugar Land. 

Source: Americans suffer from inadequate foreign language education by Lauren Franklin | The Daily Texan.