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Must try harder: why Britain should embrace foreign languages

Financial Times – Tony Barber

“The decline in knowledge of foreign languages in Britain is a familiar tale, but an extremely important one nonetheless. I want to draw the attention of readers to a Cambridge university report, “The Value of Languages”. It is the most concise, up­to­ date survey of the problem that I have come across. All too often the status of English as the world’s lingua franca leads people in Britain to the complacent conclusion that there is no need to bother with foreign languages. As the Cambridge report observes, however, a shortage of foreign language speakers is bad for British businesses, is potentially harmful to national security and carries risks for the criminal justice and healthcare systems. Companies with global operations recruit globally, the report notes. “UK graduates must be aware that the asset value of English diminishes commensurate to the number of international graduates entering the global labour market with fluent English and other languages,” it says…As for small and medium­-sized businesses, their efforts to sell products and services abroad will benefit from foreign language speakers able to conduct market research and assess clients’ needs in overseas markets.”(more)

Teach money sense in primary, say MPs

The Telegraph – Javier Espinoza

“Primary school pupils should receive compulsory financial education lessons to promote positive attitudes towards budgeting and saving, a new parliamentary report has said as it revealed one in five financial education teachers are not confident teaching the topic. Financial education is already mandatory in secondary schools where pupils learn how to solve problems involving percentage change and simple interest. But there is now growing pressure to make this mandatory among primary school children with the report suggesting inspectors more ‘explicitly’ address how much teachers are doing to educate youngsters on money matters.”(more)

Students who use digital devices in class ‘perform worse in exams’

The Guardian – Richard Adams

“Allowing students to use computers and the internet in classrooms substantially harms their results, a study has found. The paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in their exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet. The researchers suggested that removing laptops and iPads from classes was the equivalent of improving the quality of teaching. The study divided 726 undergraduates randomly into three groups in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. The control group’s classrooms were “technology-free,” meaning students were not allowed to use laptops or tablets at their desk. Another group was allowed to use computers and other devices, and the third group had restricted access to tablets.”(more)

New test for ‘growth mindset’, the theory that anyone who tries can succeed

The Guardian – Susanna Rustin

“Can watching short films featuring actors impersonating Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein improve your brainpower? Researchers working in 100 British primary schools will try to find out from September, thanks to a £290,000 grant from the Education Endowment Foundation to test whether instructing children aged 10 and 11 in “growth mindset”, an idea from American psychology, can improve results. “Growth mindset” is the name given by psychologist Carol Dweck to the idea that intelligence can develop, and that effort leads to success. Her influential research, which has been lapped up by thousands of teachers in the UK, divides people according to what Dweck calls implicit theories of intelligence. If we think talent or braininess is innate and something we cannot change, we have a “fixed mindset” (blamed by Dweck for the Enron scandal, among other ills). If we believe our performance at school and in life can be changed by our attitude, and particularly by how we cope with setbacks, we have a “growth mindset”. The British study, called Changing Mindsets, will test its effectiveness using videos and quizzes developed by education company Positive Edge in year 6 classrooms, while psychologists will train teachers for one day.”(more)

How to teach … foraging

The Guardian – Zofia Niemtus

“When asked where milk comes from, someone I know once responded: “Bottles.” This person was correct, in some respects, but they were about to get their mind blown by learning that the white stuff originates from cows. Understanding where our food comes from is important – and the idea of foraging it for ourselves is growing in popularity. Gathering your own natural goodies is a great way to reconnect with nature and explore new tastes, but it takes preparation to be effective (and avoid poisoning). So how can you introduce your students to the world of wild food?.”(more)

‘Tough’ tests are needed to encourage ‘beautiful command of English’, says minister

The Telegraph – Javier Espinoza

“Tough new tests for primary school children are needed because correct grammar use and a “beautiful command of English” shouldn’t just be the preserve of the middle classes, the schools minister has said. Nick Gibb defended tough tests for 11-year-olds as he admitted he’d seen an exam question he got wrong live on air. Mr Gibb also said young graduates should be promoted to become heads of schools to tackle the recruitment crisis. Addressing head teachers at an education conference at Brighton College, Mr Gibb said rigorous testing was important, especially for children who do not live in homes where books are a part of daily life. He said children would be helped by tough tests in areas including spelling, punctuation and grammar.”(more)