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How language shapes our perception of reality

Fast Company – Vivian Giang

“Does an English speaker perceive reality differently from say, a Swahili speaker? Does language shape our thoughts and change the way we think? Maybe. The idea that the words, grammar, and metaphors we use result in our differing perceptions of experiences have long been a point of contention for linguists.” (more)

How many words do you need to speak a language?

BBC – Beth Sagar-Fenton and Lizzy McNeill

“That was the question posed to BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme by one frustrated listener. Despite learning German for three years, and practising nearly every day, they still couldn’t seem to retain more than 500 words. “I was hoping,” they wrote, “you could give me a shortcut, by working out how many words we actually use on a regular basis.” To work out how many words you need to know to be able to speak a second language we decided to look into how many words we know in our first language, in our case English.” (more)

Multilingual Students Succeeding in the U.S.

Language Magazine – Staff Writer

“Students who speak a language other than English at home have improved in reading and math much more substantially since 2003 than previously reported, according to a study published this month in Educational Researcher. Hidden Progress of Multilingual Students on NAEP by Michael J. Kieffer, associate professor of literacy education at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, debunks a common myth that multilingual students and English Learners have made little progress in academic achievement in recent years, and that U.S. schools continue to fail these students.” (more)

How instruction changes brain circuitry with struggling readers

Science Daily – Staff Writer

“The early years are when the brain develops the most, forming neural connections that pave the way for how a child — and the eventual adult — will express feelings, embark on a task, and learn new skills and concepts. Scientists have even theorized that the anatomical structure of neural connections forms the basis for how children identify letters and recognize words. In other words, the brain’s architecture may predetermine who will have trouble with reading, including children with dyslexia.” (more)

Early Language Key to School Success

Language Magazine – Kim Echart

“Language, in other words, supports academic and social success, says Amy Pace, an assistant professor in the University of Washington Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, which led the study, published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly. The study was the first to look at a comprehensive set of school readiness skills and to try to determine which, of all of them, is the most solid predictor of a child’s later success. Language—the ability to fluidly learn words and to string them together into sentences—was the hands-down winner, said co-author Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University.” (more)

Bilinguals use inter-language transfer to deal with dyslexia

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Dyslexic children learning both a language that is pronounced as written, like Spanish, and a second language in which the same letter can have several sounds, such as English, are less affected by this alteration when reading or writing in the latter language. The authors a new study say that this is less a cure than a reduction of some of the symptoms.” (more)