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The Benefits of Teaching in Two Languages

The Atlantic – Valeria Pelet

“From New York to Utah, U.S. schools have seen a steady rise in bilingual education. Dual-language immersion programs first appeared in the U.S. in the 1960s to serve Spanish-speaking students in Florida. Since then, the demand—and controversy—surrounding these programs has been widespread, and they now address the needs of more than 5 million students who are English-language learners in the country’s public-school system. Teresa Chávez has been a teacher for almost 20 years, and is currently the lead teacher for Little Canada Elementary’s Dual Language Immersion program in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I spoke to Chávez about the implementation of the Spanish-language program and how bilingual education facilitates connections beyond the confines of a classroom. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.”(more)

Can the UK and US Close Their Language Gap?

Care2 – Lizabeth Paulat

“New findings by the University of Cambridge show that unless the UK adopts a more comprehensive language program, it will fall behind the global economy, losing jobs to international competition. The paper, titled The Value of Languages, says that the knowledge gap may already be costing the UK, “billions of pounds per year.” According to Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett, who helped co-author the paper, “English is necessary, but not sufficient.” She goes on to say that, “A UK strategy for languages would mean that UK businesses can participate fully in the global marketplace…It would also mean that the UK is able to maximise its role and authority in foreign policy through language and diplomacy.” Although language courses are now compulsory in Britain’s primary schools, challenges such as quality of the language course and continuity once students have left primary school are still issues.”(more)

Essay contributes to national study on foreign language learning

Penn State News – Kristie Auman-Bauer

“Society is becoming increasingly multilingual and more engaged around the globe — yet as many as 80 percent of Americans speak only one language, compared to 50 percent of Europeans over the age of 15 who can converse in a second language.
 To help address this issue, two Penn State researchers were recently commissioned to write an essay on the consequences of multilingualism…Kroll and Dussias’s essay, “What are the Benefits of Multilingualism to the Personal and Professional Development of Residents of this Country?” is the first to be posted on the commission’s website and dispels many of the criticisms of multilingualism in the U.S…recent research indicates multilingualism provides multiple benefits to individuals of all ages. “Young babies are not confused by hearing two or more languages and actually are more open to new learning languages,” Kroll reported. “Adult learners also have the ability to acquire a second language…Multilingualism changes the brain in positive ways across the lifespan.””(more)

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)

Benefits of Learning a Foreign Language

Hafha – Grace Hwang Lynch

“It is never too early to expose children to a foreign language and culture. Children especially between the ages of 4-5 have an open mind and absorb information like little “sponges”…When it comes to teaching kids a second language, there can be a confusing array of choices. Here’s some information on the most popular methods to help you find the right way for your child to learn another language.”(more)

Eric Migernier: Foreign language study nurtures more than job prospects

The Charleston Gazette-Mail – Eric Migernier

“We have all heard the old refrain: Why should I learn a foreign language? I am never gonna use it. Why is there a foreign language requirement for my son in college? He is never going it to need it. Besides the fact that this premise might not be entirely right in an increasingly multi-lingual global world where, exposure to a foreign language can give anyone competing for a job a shot in the arm, there are other reasons for wanting and needing to learn a foreign language. Think of all the elements that counter learning in a traditional classroom today: the passivity, the yawns, the boredom, the stress, the sheer lack of pleasure that typically engulfs students and erects a wall between them and the teacher.”(more)