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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)

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)

5 Proven Benefits of Learning a New Language

Travel and Leisure – Richelle Szypulski

“Learning to speak a second language can be challenging, for sure, but that’s because you’re training your brain to do something much more complex than memorizing new words and their proper pronunciations. You’re expanding your thought capability, in more ways than one. Bilingualism provides benefits beyond the ability to ask for directions or to order a coffee without accidentally receiving a large dessert platter. (What a happy accident, though, right?) The brains of polyglots operate differently than those of unilingual folk. Regular use of a second language sharpens many cognitive skills, and it’s even been found to make you appear more attractive.”(more)

Indifference toward Foreign Languages Could Cost Americans

Good Call – Marisa Sanfilippo

“Census Bureau data represent the most comprehensive evaluation ever of languages spoken in the United States. Previous data sets only included information on 39 languages, while the latest results gathered information on 350 languages. In the New York Metro area alone, the data reveal at least 192 languages being spoken at home, with 38 percent of the population older than 5 speaking a language other than English at home. In the Los Angeles metro area, 185 languages were identified and 54 percent spoke a language other than English at home.”(more)

Language learning aids attention, study says

Know Ridge Staff Writer

“Mental agility can be boosted by even a short period of learning a language, a study suggests. Tests carried out on students of all ages suggest that acquiring a new language improves a person’s attention, after only a week of study. Researchers also found that these benefits could be maintained with regular practice.”(more)