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Spoken languages affect reading strategies and cognitive foundations of literacy

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“The way bilingual people read is conditioned by the languages they speak. This is the main conclusion reached by researchers at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) after reviewing the existing scientific literature and comparing this information to the findings of studies at their own centre. The scientists found that the languages spoken by bilingual people (when they learned to read in two languages at the same time) affect their reading strategies and even the cognitive foundations that form the basis for the capacity to read. This discovery could have implications for clinical and education practice.”(more)

Being bilingual makes you experience time differently

Quartz – Ephrat Livni

“A new study shows that the words we use to talk about time also shape our view of its passage. This, say researchers, indicates that abstract concepts like duration are relative rather than universal, and that they are also influenced rather than solely innate. The work, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General on April 27, examined how Spanish- and Swedish-speaking bilinguals conceived of time. The researchers—from University of Stockholm in Sweden and the University of Lancaster in the UK—found that their subjects, 40 of whom were native Swedish speakers and 40 of whom were native Spanish speakers—tended to think about time in terms that correspond to each language’s descriptors when linguistically prompted in that particular language but moved fluidly from one concept of time to another generally.”(more)

Spotlight: U.S. teachers, students say Chinese learning critical for Western kids

Xinhua Net – Staff Writer

“It is critical and important for kids in the United States and Europe to learn Chinese nowadays, as a booming China generates a huge demand for Western employees speaking both fluent English and Chinese in the years to come. This was the consensus among teachers, students and experts at the Experience China Open Day held by the Chinese Consulate General in New York City Friday evening. The function attracted more than 200 U.S. teachers, students and parents to the Chinese Consulate General, participating in various cultural immersion games such as paper cutting, making Chinese knots, calligraphy and playing Guzheng, a traditional Chinese musical instrument.”(more)

Is learning a language much easier for kids?

Sunshine Coast Daily – Warren Midgley

“IT’S often thought that it is better to start learning a second language at a young age but research shows that this is not necessarily true. In fact, the best age to start learning a second language can vary significantly, depending on how the language is being learned. The belief that younger children are better language learners is based on the observation that children learn to speak their first language with remarkable skill at a very early age. Before they can add two small numbers or tie their own shoelaces, most children develop a fluency in their first language that is the envy of adult language learners.”(more)

The study of foreign languages shouldn’t be ignored

The Breeze – Dan Ford

“Learning a foreign language also helps improve one’s understanding of the cultures that speak that language. In my French courses, we’ve extensively spoken about the people who speak the language — the French, the Quebecois and African French speakers. I now have greater knowledge of how these cultures are composed, what they enjoy for pastimes and how they differ politically and socially from the American culture that I’m used to. When learning a language, one dives into the culture when listening to audio programs from native speakers or when reading the news of those that speak that language. These inherently allow for a greater understanding of that foreign culture and an analysis of the differences and similarities between that culture and one’s own.”(more)

Northwestern expert calls for more language learning in U.S.

Northwestern Now – Mohamed Abdelfattah

“Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies at Northwestern University, has been addressing what he calls the “paradox of American attitudes toward multilingualism” and is involved in a major congressional initiative to expand language learning in the United States. Edwards participated in the writing of the first report on the nation’s language capacity in four decades. He has been involved with K-12 world language programs in Chicago and Evanston and has called for an increase in Arabic in Chicago Public Schools. “At a time when some want us to retrench into an America-first nativism, it’s all the more important to celebrate our multiple connections to the world,” Edwards said.”(more)