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Learning languages: Why bilingual kids are smarter

The Irish Times – Peter McGuire

“Ireland is speaking more languages than ever before with Polish, French, Romanian, Lithuanian and Spanish all echoing through our family homes. For years, there was a belief that bilingual children lagged behind academically and intellectually. More recent studies, however, comprehensively show this is untrue: switching between two or more languages gives the brain a dexterousness and improves our attention, planning, memory and problem-solving skills.” (more)

St. Patrick’s Day is Coming: Ireland, An Interactive Notebook Activity

Education World – Gail S Hennessey

“St. Patrick’s Day is coming-a wonderful opportunity to introduce your students to the country of Ireland. Did you know that the Celtic knot is a very famous symbol of Ireland? Learn more about Ireland with my fun and informative web quest on Ireland includes 12 questions and lots of extension activities.” (more)

Learning a language should be compulsory in schools, says report

BBC – Robbie Meredith

“Learning a foreign language should be made compulsory in primary schools here, a new report has said. In Northern Ireland, learning a second language is not a statutory part of the primary school curriculum. In England and Scotland, by contrast, primary school pupils are expected to learn a foreign language. The review of primary languages in Northern Ireland has been carried out by researchers from Stranmillis University College.”(more)

Learning the lingo: Taking up a second language before we’re 3?

The Irish Examiner – Arlene Harris

“Dr David Carey, director of Psychology at City Colleges and Dean of the College of Progressive Education, says introducing children to new languages before they even start primary school is a great idea. “All children can learn another language at an early age and it’s a wonderful gift to give to them,” he says. “The young brain, before the age of 5, is able to learn to speak another language without developing an accent — to speak it like a native. “And when a foreign language it taught in a fun and engaging style, without an obsessive focus on grammar, it opens the world to them. While learning any skill builds confidence and self-esteem, language learning is intrinsically rewarding to children.” The experienced psychologist says incorporating a new language into your child’s everyday life in an engaging fashion is the best way to create interest.”(more)

Computer games affect maths and reading skills

The Irish Examiner – Niall Murray

“A study of 8,000 Irish primary pupils also found those who spend more time with their friends performed poorest on the national assessments of reading in 2014. The findings have led researchers to suggest parents limit time their children spend on all these activities. Students who had TVs in their bedrooms and those with mobiles, scored significantly lower than others. However, test results for pupils with firm rules on behaviour at home and who completed their homework show they did significantly better than other children.”(more)

Ask the expert: Should my child learn to speak Mandarin?

The Irish Times – Staff Writer

“Edd Stockwell, co-founder of Tutorfair.com, which makes it easy to find good local tutors, says: “From Facebook’s chief executive delivering a 20-minute speech entirely in Mandarin for the Chinese president’s recent visit, China’s influence on the global market has never been so strong. “Alongside this, we’ve found the appetite for students learning Mandarin has also rocketed – recent statistics show a 24 per cent increase in learning the language. “So why is it so important for children to learn? Simple – invest in their future. China will play a major role in world affairs in the future and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Mandarin and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context..”(more)