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For children with autism, multiple languages may be a boon

The Spectrum News – Ann Griswold

“The science — what little exists — in fact suggests that these children should embrace multilingualism. “There are few studies on bilingualism in children with developmental disorders, and even fewer with appropriate control groups,” says Napoleon Katsos, lecturer in linguistics at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. In typical children, learning a second or third language hones critical thinking and executive function — a set of skills that includes attention, self-control and mental flexibility2. It also gives them an edge in reading and writing3. Children with developmental delays might reap those same benefits. Bilingual children with autism have language skills on par with monolingual children with the condition, and they acquire social and cognitive skills at the same rate4,5,6. But these children are twice as likely as monolingual children with autism to use gestures such as pointing when they communicate, according to a 2012 study. This finding suggests that they have a strong command of joint attention and are adept at nonverbal communication.'”(more)

Multilingual Prowess: 6 Tips to Guide You in Learning a New Language

The Huffington Post – Sam Cohen

“A cousin of mine went for an internship program in South Africa early last year. When she came back a couple months back, she narrated to me her various adventures that included everything from hiking to bungee jumping. She stayed with a friend in a tiny rural community for the duration of her internship. Naturally, I expected that she should have picked up a bit of the language. But when I brought it up she gave me this answer: “I enjoyed my stay in South Africa and will love to revisit it someday. But more than half the time I could not understand what the natives were talking about“. Many of us can relate to her story; we complain about how difficult it is to pick up a foreign language, both in written form and conversationally. But as businesses continue to cast their net across the globe – thanks to the global reach of the internet – and immigration persists, cultures will continue to meet and overlap and consequently so will languages.”(more)

Immersion an effective way to develop kids’ skills

The Japan News – Mikiko Miyakawa and Yomiuri Shimbun

“Since their introduction about four decades ago, language immersion programs have proved highly successful in the United States, as more people there have developed an increased awareness of the importance of learning foreign languages and have recognized immigrant children as important resources in society. As Japan prepares itself for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 and globalization beyond, it could also try introducing such programs in more schools to improve children’s proficiency in foreign languages. Located in the picturesque city of Eugene, Ore., Yujin Gakuen has cultivated Japanese language education for children in the city for almost three decades. With Japanese-themed motifs such as cherry blossoms, Mt. Fuji, carp streamers and the rising sun, the huge, colorful mural at the school entrance instantly captures the hearts of everyone who visits the school. “Fourth- and fifth-graders of the school created the artwork last year,” said Izumi Sakimoto, a Japanese parent of Yujin Gakuen students. She moved to Eugene with her American husband so their kids could attend the school.”(more)

7 Reasons You Should Thank The Second Language You Learnt

Nigeria Today – Staff Writer

“Whether you had a bilingual upbringing or learned a second language later in life, you are incredibly fortunate. In fact, the benefits of being bilingual may be far greater than you ever imagined. From the wealth of research surrounding bilingualism, scientists have highlighted distinct advantages in academic performance, mental health, and even future success. This phenomenon has since become known as the bilingual advantage. The process of learning, knowing and using a second language has a profound effect on the brain. Specifically, they experience greater development in these key areas that organize and process speech:.”(more)

School foreign languages learning changes call by Estyn

BBC – Staff Writer

“Education watchdogs have called for changes in the way modern foreign languages are taught to reverse a declining trend in pupils taking exams. The Welsh Government commissioned Estyn to undertake the study after a report last year found modern foreign language learning “declining rapidly” in Wales. There were 700 A-level language entries in 2015 compared with 1,152 in 2009. It found a fall in the use of the language as the means to instruct pupils, with teachers using English. The report, Modern Foreign Languages, partly blamed core curriculum requirements and limited option choices for a decrease in the number of students taking GCSE and A levels in languages.”(more)

Learning languages a sure path to success

The WCF Courier – Stanley Smith

“On June 12, The Courier and Fred Abraham combined to present an excellent column of advice to graduating high school seniors. While I doubt if any young people in that age bracket read editorial pages, I certainly hope at least some of their parents did. On that hope I would like to use that column as a jumping-off point for advice I would proffer to that same group of youngsters. Learn a foreign language: The old Soviet Union and current Russian government sponsor schools that teach not only foreign languages but also the culture of the countries in question. It isn’t simply spies they are training. Proficiency in a foreign language also gives a leg up to businesses, diplomats and, of course, interpreters.”(more)