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Mandarin makes you more musical?

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“Mandarin makes you more musical – and at a much earlier age than previously thought. That’s the suggestion of a new study from the University of California San Diego. But hold on there, overachiever parents, don’t’ rush just yet to sign your kids up for Chinese lessons instead of piano. In a paper published in Developmental Science, an international team of researchers shows that among the preschool set – or young children between the ages of 3 and 5 – native speakers of Mandarin Chinese are better than their English-speaking counterparts at processing musical pitch. The implications of the findings go beyond determining who may have a head-start in music, the researchers say. The work shows that brain skills learned in one area affect learning in another.”(more)

Learning a new language alters brain development

AZERTAC – Staff Writer

“The age at which children learn a second language can have a significant bearing on the structure of their adult brain, according to a new joint study by the Montreal Neurological Institute. The majority of people in the world learn to speak more than one language during their lifetime. Many do so with great proficiency particularly if the languages are learned simultaneously or from early in development.”(more)

Sí, teach all children Spanish

The Sun-Sentinel – Andrew Abramson

“No hablas Español? Me neither. Like most South Florida English-speaking natives, I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school. At least I think I did. I definitely took one year of Spanish, and I probably took two — it’s a complete blur because it was so unmemorable. We’d learn a few phrases, take a multiple choice test, and watch VHS recordings of Lou Diamond Phillips’ “La Bamba” — in English. It didn’t have to be like that. We could all have bilingual skills that would enrich our education and make us more competitive in the job market. Dual-language speakers have a leg up when seeking employment, especially in South Florida with an ever-growing Hispanic market. All it would take is our school districts treating Spanish as a core subject in the elementary level — on par with math, science and social studies.”(more)

The benefits of bilingualism

The Daily – Anni Hong

“Being bilingual is great for your brain; there are major cognitive benefits to being able to speak two languages. For a long time it was believed that two languages would compete in a person’s brain and become confusing — this is why in the past many parents refused to have their child learn two languages. However, a study conducted by psychologists Michelle Martin-Rhee and Ellen Bialystok in 2004 proved the opposite to be true. In this study, children were asked to sort digital images of circles and squares into bins based on their color and then by their shape. Children who were bilingual were able to organize the images when their color opposed the color of the bin more quickly than children who only spoke one language. This study helped prove that bilinguals have a stronger executive functio than monolinguals. The executive function, a system that the brain uses to plan and solve problems, helps us keep our attention while distractions are present, and it also helps switch our attention back and forth. It is currently believed that bilingualism improves the executive function because bilingual people need to monitor their environment in order to choose a language to speak and be able to quickly switch between languages.”(more)

A New Year’s Plan For Parents Of Bilingual And Multilingual Children

The Huffington Post – Bea Sieradzka

“I’m not going to make any New Year’s resolutions. Nope. No more. Instead, I’ve made a plan. We all know what happens to most of our New Year’s resolutions. Plans are plans, though. Plans are made to be followed and make them a reality. Point by point. Or, a little bit of each point every day. 2016 has brought to me many changes and some of them helped me prepare for what will be in 2017. My little boy is now 6 and a bit. For the last six months, with a changing regularity (read: rarely) I have been writing about his language adventure. Even though my idea from the start was to raise him bilingual and for all those years I have been doing it as a very conscious parent, only when I actually started writing about my son’s language adventure I began to truly understand what a precious gem it is to help your child speak more languages. My initial goal was simple: to introduce him to the community language at a level that would be enough for him to communicate and comprehend the language of the majority. I wanted him to be as proficient an English speaker when he starts school as his English peers.”(more)

The most crucial language isn’t taught to kids, that’s a problem for Britain’s future

The Memo – Oliver Smith

“Learning a foreign language is a crucial part of childhood. Not only is a language a great life skill, it also encourages kids to understand and accept difference in the world around them – even if Friday last period French lessons aren’t exactly riveting. Languages are also the bedrock of our business and trade, filtering up through industries and deepening our links with other cultures. But learning French, German or Spanish – the most popular languages taught in Britain’s secondary schools today – isn’t the future, and parents already know this. The majority of parents pick Mandarin Chinese as the most vital non-European language for young people in the UK to learn – according to a survey yesterday from the British Council – maybe not surprising as Mandarin is the most widely spoken language on earth.”(more)