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Chinese Is Not a Backward Language

Foreign Policy Magazine – Tom Mullaney

“Even in the age of China’s social media boom, with billion-dollar valuations for Beijing-based IT start-ups, prejudice against the Chinese language is alive and well. One would be forgiven for thinking that by 2016, the 20th century’s widespread critiques of racism, colonialism, and Social Darwinism would have sounded the death knell of 19th-century Orientalism, which viewed China and the Chinese language through a condescending, colonialist lens. At the least, one might hope that if notions of Chinese Otherness were still with us, those who carry on the tradition of these threadbare ideas would generally be seen as archaically Eurocentric and gauche — the dross of airport bookshop paperbacks, unworthy of serious engagement. If only. Nineteenth-century understandings of China persist, not only surviving the decline of Social Darwinism and race science, but flourishing in this new century, driven primarily by arguments about China’s unfitness for modern technology and media.”(more)

Are paraprofessionals the answer to the nation’s shortage of bilingual teachers?

The Hechinger Report – Kaylan Connally and Kim Dancy

“Nearly one in four students speaks a language other than English at home — but only about one in eight teachers. Bilingual paraprofessionals help narrow the linguistic gulf between students and teachers by assisting with direct translation. They could help close this gap even further by becoming lead teachers themselves. One in five paraprofessionals speaks a non-English language at home — double the share for teachers. Perhaps because of the demands of their jobs, among bilingual Americans, paraprofessionals and teachers are more likely to report speaking English well or very well.”(more)

Some people really DO have a flair for languages: Brain patterns predict how quickly someone will learn a foreign tongue

The Daily Mail – Richard Gray

“For some, picking up a foreign language almost comes as second nature while others stumble over the jumble of unfamiliar words and phrases. A study has revealed the secret that may lie behind these differences in the ability to learn a new language – the rhythm of electrical activity in their brain. Scientists at the University of Washington found people who were better at acquiring a second language had higher activity in key parts of their brain when resting than those who struggled.”(more)

Six Ways to Fluency for World-Language Learners

Education Week – Renee A. Foose

“Most of the world’s industrialized nations have national policies that mandate world language instruction in elementary school, according to a white paper issued by the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. A large body of research posits that world language in the early grades positively impacts intellectual growth, academic achievement, and cultural proficiency. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) contends that students learn to think more flexibly, appreciate nuances in language, and sharpen their listening skills as they learn a second language. Young children also expand their capacity for communicating with peers whose primary language is not English, and they develop an appreciation for other cultures. Our elementary school World Language Program has gained accolades from the community because parents understand the many cognitive and social benefits of such a program. Here’s what the world language pathway can look like for students going through our school system.”(more)

Opinion: The importance of international education on global mobility

Human Capital Magazine – Staff Writer

“This is a unique period in world history, which requires exceptional leaders, who can overcome major political, economic and environmental challenges. The perceived stability of historical superpowers is being contested by new political and economic powers and we are facing an age of dynamism in international relations. We can expect more regional collaboration such as ASEAN and Mercosur to develop and more individual countries – India, China, Brazil and soon maybe Indonesia or Nigeria – to play even bigger roles in global politics.”(more)

The key to learning a new skill? Wanting it badly enough

The Guardian – Matthew Youlden

“Imagine I gave you a book full of words, numbers and strange symbols – 150-odd pages of the stuff. Some of the things relate to each other in obvious ways, others not so much. Now suppose I’m going to test you: 50 questions about the contents of that book, how do you think you’d do? Well, if you can drive a car, chances are you’ve already done very well: those of you who passed the theory test recently will have got at least 43 out of 50 questions correct. That’s just one everyday example of the average person’s capacity to learn something that appears complex at first. Despite recently making the questions tougher, the DVLA still reports that the test has a pass rate above 50%.”(more)