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Multilingual education is ‘absolutely essential,’ UNESCO chief says on Mother Language Day

The United Nations News – Staff Writer

“Learning languages is a promise of peace, innovation and creativity, and will contribute to the achievement of global development goals, the head of the United Nations agency for culture and education has said, marking International Mother Language Day. “There can be no authentic dialogue or effective international cooperation without respect for linguistic diversity, which opens up true understanding of every culture,” said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in her message on the Day.”(more)

Spark an Interest in Spanish With Books

Geek Dad – Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

“I love to sprinkle educational materials around our home and watch the learning unfold. I have talked about STEM strewing before, and today I’d like to share some recent foreign language strewing. The best time to learn a foreign language is now. There are so many benefits to learning a second language, and research suggests that it is easier to learn a language in childhood than in adulthood. Here are just some of the many benefits of learning another language or two.”(more)

Mark Zuckerberg Is Learning Chinese. Here’s Why You Should, Too

INC – Glenn Leibowitz

“I’ve been following Mark Zuckerberg’s path to mastering Mandarin Chinese since his speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing in October 2014. At that event, Mark bravely managed to deliver his speech and answer questions from the audience – entirely in Chinese. Yes, as one expert noted at the time, he mangled his grammar and pronunciation. But he did what few (if any) CEOs of multi-billion-dollar companies have done during their business trips to China: He took the time to learn and speak the language. During the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday in February last year, Mark and his wife Priscilla recorded a video with their adorable newborn daughter, Max. Again, Zuckerberg put his Mandarin chops on display for the entire world to hear.”(more)

How Not to Teach Chinese

The Chronicle of Higher Education – Geoffrey Pullum

“Victor Mair wrote on Language Log last month about a test in what appears to have been a third-year class in Chinese at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, in New York. What made it news in China (see in particular this story in the South China Morning Post) was that the test involved giving synonyms for a number of words written with Chinese characters so rare and archaic that many Chinese people were prepared to admit on social-media sites that they would not have been able to pass the test. This story has remained in my thoughts for weeks. It pulls together several worries I have about foreign-language instruction.”(more)

Marin Voice: The case for bilingual education — why not Mandarin Chinese?

The Marin Independent Journal – Jie Zheng

“Dual-language immersion is a method of teaching in which the learners study subjects such as math, science and social studies in a second language. Studies suggest that immersion is the most effective way to learn a foreign language, and that the critical window for learning is between birth and about 10 years of age. While some parents worry about a second language interfering with their child’s ability to master their first language to the same level and at the same pace as their monolingual peers, studies have shown that the opposite is true.”(more)

Naptime could have beneficial effect on language learning in preschool-age children

News Medical Life Sciences – Staff Writer

“Research has shown that naps play an important role in sustaining new learning in infants. A new study from the University of Arizona suggests naptime could have a similar effect on language learning in preschool-age children. Researchers studied verb learning in 3-year-olds and found that those who napped after learning new verbs had a better understanding of the words when tested 24 hours later. The findings, which will be published in the journal Child Development, suggest that parents may want to consider maintaining regular naptimes for preschoolers, who are at an age at which naps have a tendency to dwindle, said lead study author and UA alumna Michelle Sandoval, who conducted the research as a doctoral student in the UA Department of Psychology.”(more)