Renascence School Education News - private school

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chinese speakers use more of their brain than English speakers

Quartz – Lily Kuo

“If you speak Mandarin, your brain works differently. That’s according to a recent study published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. The report is the first to conclude that those who speak tonal languages like Mandarin exhibit a very different flow of information during speech comprehension, using both hemispheres of the brain rather than just the left, which has long been seen as the primary neurological region for processing language. After analyzing brain imaging data from Mandarin and English speakers listening their respective languages, researchers from Peking University and other universities found that native Mandarin speakers and native English speakers both showed evidence of activity in the brain’s left hemisphere. But Mandarin speakers also saw activation in the right hemisphere, specifically in a region important for processing music, via pitch and tone, that has long been seen as largely unrelated to language comprehension.”(more)

10 steps to making yours a STEM school

E-School News – Stephen Noonoo

“The quest to improve the way schools team STEM subjects, such as engineering and computer science, isn’t an easy fix. New resources, technology, and teacher training all play a significant part. Recently, school administrators shared how they were tackling the problem at the elementary level, using professional development courses from the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Catherine University in Minnesota. To help other schools, the NCSEE has also come up with a ten-point tip sheet for schools looking to beef up their commitment to STEM. “The thing that’s most universally true is that schools and teachers are so full of opportunities to teach STEM. There’s so much right there already,” said Patty Born-Selly, the executive director of the NCSEE. “What we’ve found across the board is that teachers really want to be more comfortable with this material and the subject matter so they feel as comfortable with it as, say, reading.” Among the organization’s suggestions: be realistic, involve local professionals from the community, survey local outdoor areas, and take time to celebrate STEM successes in a way that joins together the entire school. Read on for the NCSEE’s full suggestions.”(more)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Study a foreign language, get a job

The Badger Herald – Dara Brody

“In an era notorious for a competitive job-hunting climate, the skills we learn in our years at the University of Wisconsin are vital in ensuring a successful career. So when scouring the course guide trying to make up your next semester schedule, a foreign language class can be one of the most helpful things to add to your calendar. As cited by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, one of the top ten skills employers look for in a college graduate is the ability to understand the global context in which work is now performed. As the world becomes more interconnected and borders seem to melt away amidst advancing technology, employees with language skills become extremely important in supporting business endeavors both at home and abroad. Learning a language also correlates with cultural awareness, a valuable skill in any diverse workplace environment. Additionally, research by the National Research Council found those who studied a foreign language better understood English grammar and had improved overall communication and problem solving skills. These are imperative in any career.”(more)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Feel the beat: how rhythm shapes the way we use and understand language

The Guardian – Peter Kimpton

“Do you feel the rhythm? Or a French rythme, Spanish ritmo, Swedish rytm, Russian ритм (ritm) or Japanese rizumu? Is there a difference? Perhaps one way to find out is to have a French conversation, German konversation, Spanish conversación, or Italian conversatione? Doing so will of course reveal many differences, but languages of the world also share much, just as these words demonstrate. For millennia we have been singing, dancing, clapping, drumming and talking to a beat. Just like the evolution of our DNA, languages have cross-pollinated, overlapped and changed, but at a far more rapid rate than our bodies. But are linguistic rhythmic patterns really universal? An extensive 2010 Oxford University study comparing a series of rhythm algorithm measurements for English, French, Greek, Russian and Mandarin found – “surprisingly”, as the study itself expressed – that none of these languages could be separated, and that languages do not have dramatically different rhythms. It found variants came far more from individual speakers than the rules of the language itself. So perhaps universal patterns of rhythm aren’t so surprising after all. Could the instinct for rhythm in language be innate and echo Noam Chomsky’s theory of universal grammar, that we are all essentially hard-wired to form sentences? The answer lies in the weight of syllables.”(more)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Should your toddler be learning Spanish? – Samantha Melamed

“Last Wednesday night, beneath colorful Mexican cut-paper banners and decorative sombreros, toddlers clambered past one another to grab maracas as children’s music performer Andres Salguero began a bilingual serenade, inviting his new amigos to sing along. It was the grand opening of Mi Casita, the first full-day, Spanish-language-immersion preschool and day-care center in Philadelphia…Foreign-language immersion in early childhood appears to be on the rise, said Marty Abbott, executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Nationwide, the number of public-school immersion programs grew from three in 1971 to 448 by 2011…proactive parents are seeking ways to start educating kids younger than ever, spurring a small but growing number of foreign-language programs in this region starting at the preschool level and even earlier, in day care…”Parents see knowing other languages as important for the future of their children,” Abbott said. “They understand that the children are already living in a global environment and they want to make sure their child is prepared.””(more)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Governors Missing the Link Between Global Competitiveness and Global Competence

Education Week – Heather Singmaster

“Most United States governors have completed their annual State of the State and inauguration speeches, which included the outlines of their education priorities. They covered many trending topics such as the Common Core, early childhood education, and Career Technical Education (CTE)…As in years past, however, the topic of global education remained relatively unaddressed…Many governors’ speeches also referenced state competitiveness in the global economy and attracting global commerce…How can states create more jobs and be globally competitive? According to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) “Education is the best economic development tool we have.” So if global competitiveness is a priority—and education is the key—shouldn’t governors want to promote a global education? Only two governors made the direct connection between the economy and global education in their speeches. Delaware Governor Jack Markell, (D) a long-time supporter of world language education, spoke about its importance. “We have also invested in language immersion programs because our children will have greater opportunities in the global economy when they can speak more than one language,” said Markell.”(more)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Learning a Language Early On Is the Best Investment

PR News Wire – Staff Writer

“The best advice for the teen you know is plain and simple: Learning a foreign language is one of the best investments one can make, with short and long term benefits. We are bombarded with miracle solutions to learn a language “in 5 minutes.” However, some straightforward facts and truths about language learning must be acknowledged: – Start way before your college years. You must be dedicated in college to learn a language from scratch, let alone two. And even though studying abroad in college is great, it will never bring the same intensity and emotions compared to doing it between 14 and 17. Middle school and high school years are the best time to learn a foreign language.”(more)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Shout louder

The Economist – Staff Writer

“THE last time she was recruiting for her export-sales team, Sarah Grain hired a Lithuanian who speaks Russian, Polish and German. Her two previous hires for Eriez Magnetics, which makes industrial equipment in South Wales, were an Italian who also speaks French, and a Venezuelan who speaks Spanish and Portuguese. All of them speak fluent English. “There were no British applicants who had the requisite language skills,” she says. Ms Grain’s conclusion is not unusual for a British company. In 2012 a European Commission survey tested the foreign-language proficiency of 54,000 students aged 14 and 15, in 14 nations. Sweden came top, with 82% of pupils reaching an “independent” or “advanced independent” standard. The average for all 14 states was 42%. England came bottom, with just 9%. Part of the explanation is that many people’s second language is English, while many Britons continue to believe that, as native speakers of the lingua mundi, they do not need to bother with foreign languages. They may be right—in terms of communication. But it means that, not only are they missing out on much cultural interaction, they may also be harming their own job prospects.”(more)

Friday, February 27, 2015

New Advocacy Group Pushes for Multilingualism in D.C. Schools

Ed Central – Conor Williams

“D.C.’s dynamism as a local community was on full display earlier this week at a panel event hosted by the DC Language Immersion Project. The discussion, titled “Economic and Workforce Development Impacts of Language Immersion,” was the second in a series of local events designed to build a groundswell of support for multilingualism in D.C.’s public schools…Joint National Committee for Languages and National Council for Languages and International Studies Executive Director Bill Rivers…cited recent data showing that 11 percent of American companies are actively looking for multilingual job candidates…domestic and global workforce demands are changing rapidly—most jobs being created now in the United States depend in some way on foreign trade.”(more)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Muy magnifique: Lexington One students becoming global learners through language – Rachel Ham

“People who pick up a storybook or math worksheet in some classrooms in Lexington School District One might do a double take. Fiction books, educational posters and even student drawings are filled with words like “rojo,” “auto-collants” and “mammifères” instead of the expected “red,” “stickers” and “mammals.” Lexington One’s Partial Immersion World Language program allows students to begin becoming bilingual by surrounding them with a new language…Teachers who see students talk excitedly in their newfound language said the benefits of becoming bilingual show up on standardized tests and in how students solve problems. “It improves creativity … and comprehension … and teaches them how to take risks as learners,” said Spanish immersion teacher Charli Kinard…Kinard said she thinks the Partial Immersion program falls right in line with the district’s mission to prepare students for their futures. “Students are open to and appreciative of diversity … and can be contributing members of society,” she said.”(more)