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Why Multilingual People Have Healthier, More Engaged Brains

KQED News Mind/Shift – Staff Writer

“Prior to the 1960s, scientists thought children who spoke more than one language had a handicap for learning because they had to spend too much time distinguishing between languages. With more modern brain imaging technology, researchers can now see how multilingualism actually strengthens the brain. People who speak more than one language have a higher density of gray matter that contains most of the brains neurons and synapses. Scientists are also beginning to distinguish between young children who grow up learning and speaking two languages as compared to those who learn a second language in adulthood. Children use both hemispheres of the brain to acquire language, which means they often grasp the emotional implications of language more deeply. In contrast, adults who learned a second language tend to approach problems presented to them in that language in a more rational, detached way. Scientists hypothesize that it’s because adults often acquire language through the left hemisphere of the brain.”(more)

Start Learning Spanish To Make A Mark In The Global Front

The Global Dispatch – Staff Writer

“With Spanish being the prime language of communication for over 425 million people in the world, it is bound to grab the attention of language learners across the globe. This romantic language is now also a great language for business with being the third most popular language in the world after Mandarin and English. Those who want to learn a language to delve deep into its interesting culture find Spanish interesting; and those who have to stand tall in the changing business scenario look at this language as a great savior.”(more)

7 Best Foreign Languages to Learn in 2016

Cheat Sheet – Lauren Weiler

“Whether you’re seeking employment in a new country or you’re looking for an adventure abroad, it’s in your best interest to learn at least one different language. The world we live in today doesn’t feel as large and distant as it once did thanks to technology. And if you’re looking to break into the very difficult job market today, you’ll have a major leg-up if you know a language other than your native one. Learning a foreign language can also have great effects on the brain, says The Washington Post. It can boost your cognitive abilities and make you a quicker, better thinker. Here are the top seven foreign languages that you should be learning in 2016.”(more)

One million U.S. students could be studying Mandarin by 2020

PBS News Hour – Corey Mitchell

“A multinational effort to boost the number of U.S. students studying abroad in China has expanded its focus to stateside Mandarin language learning. The push, led by the US-China Strong Foundation, aims to increase the number of American students studying the language to one million by 2020, a five-fold increase. The effort recognizes the growing importance of U.S.-China relations and aims to prepare a new generation of U.S. citizens to engage with China through commerce and culture. “We’re looking at this as a lifelong effort to ensure we have leaders who understand China and can help manage what we believe is the most important bilateral relationship in the world,” said Carola McGiffert, CEO of the Washington-based foundation. To reach that goal, the initiative aims to create a model Chinese language and culture curriculum that is flexible enough to allow local school systems to tailor it to their needs.”(more)

Educators say acquiring language skills key to becoming global citizens

The Daily Hampshire Gazette – Sarah Crosby

“While Spanish and French are among those widely spoken languages, he concluded, Chinese, German, Arabic and Portuguese, a language also spoken in Brazil, increasingly “have currency.” Data from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shows that in Massachusetts during the 2014-15 school year, Spanish classes had over four times the enrollment of any other language, followed by French and then Latin. Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, German and American Sign Language showed enrollment between approximately 2,000 to 8,000 students, while several hundred students opted for Japanese, Arabic and Russian. At Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton, students are embracing languages outside of the school’s robust Spanish and French programs. Principal Kristen Smidy said juniors and seniors have taken virtual courses in German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Latin. The interactive online courses include speaking segments, which students complete by talking into a microphone. A changing landscape in foreign policy, international relations and global business has been a key factor in student demand for less traditional language skills, Smidy said.”(more)

Personality Has Less Impact On Language Learning Than You Think

The Huffington Post – Steve Kaufmann

“There are so many myths surrounding language learning: You need to do this. You need to be that. You have to be musical and have an ear for music. You have to have a talent for language learning. One of the biggest myths I have come across though is that extroverts are the better language learners. I do not believe at all that you need to be an extrovert to learn a language. Language learning isn’t about your personality type, rather it comes down to whether or not you possess the three keys. The first key is attitude. You have to be interested in and like the language. You have to believe you’re going to achieve your goal. Your belief that you can achieve your goal is very important and I think the first-time language learner has a problem: they’ve never done it before. It easier to give in to insecurities if you’ve never achieved something before. But attitude is 70 per cent of the battle, and you have to go into language learning with the attitude that you will be successful.”(more)