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UN: Multilingual Education Is ‘Absolutely Essential’

Language Magazine – Staff Writer

“Learning languages is a promise of peace, innovation, and creativity and will contribute to the achievement of global development goals, the head of the United Nations agency for culture and education said last month to mark International Mother Language Day. “There can be no authentic dialogue or effective international cooperation without respect for linguistic diversity, which opens up true understanding of every culture,” said UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural.”(more)

Well-adjusted or only peer socialized?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Over the past fifty years what Americans believe makes a child well-adjusted has changed. Today many parents think a youngster is well-balanced if he/she interacts easily with his/her peers. Even though this type of social interaction is important, it is only part of what is necessary for a child to be happy, secure, and successful.

Children need to know they are loved and must have daily attention and socialization. Even though our society prioritizes peer socialization, it is equally important for kids to learn how to interact with people who are older and younger, of different socio-economic backgrounds, and from other cultures. It is also important that our children have open dialog with people who have different political viewpoints, interests, and careers.

Providing broad socialization does not have to be an expensive or time consuming process. Every community has people with diverse talents, passions, and interests and almost all areas have people from different cultures and of different ages. Rather than seeking safety in people who are similar, parents can reach out to those who are distinctive and include them in family events and social gatherings. This step allows their children to experience uncommon worldviews and cultural perspectives and have exposure to new career options, hobbies, and sports.

Sometimes we forget that emotional development is tied to physical well-being. To make matters more challenging, our lives are so busy that we overlook these physical necessities. Well-adjusted children need adequate sleep and exercise and need to eat well-balanced diets that include ample unrefined and minimally processed fruits, vegetables, meats, legumes, and grains. There are many websites that include recipes for quick, healthy options and fast food restaurants that provide fresh, wholesome choices.

We have less experience monitoring how our children are progressing beyond peer to peer socialization. As a result, it will likely take a conscious effort to make sure development is on schedule. Observation is often an effective tool. Do our kids actively engage adults in meaningful dialog in a broad range of subjects? How do they respond when someone broaches a topic which is new to them? Are they able to diplomatically disagree? Do they take the opinions of adults at face value or are they able to listen and form their own opinions? Have they developed new sports, art, or community interests?

Once a parent starts monitoring a broader range of emotional and physical components, they will have a good idea if their child is well-adjusted.

Multilingualism: Speaking the language of diversity

Al Jazeera – Khaled Diab

“As the United Kingdom heads for the EU exit, a recent survey bestowed upon Britons the unenviable distinction of being the worst at foreign languages in Europe. Although this survey is based on perceptions and is, hence, subjective, it does confirm an enormous and damning body of previous research. Despite the UK being one of the most multicultural societies in Europe, three-fifths of people in Britain cannot speak a foreign language, according to a Europe-wide survey. In the rest of Europe, more than half the citizens speak at least one foreign language. This dire picture is backed up by anecdotal evidence. When growing up in the UK, I was often regarded as a curiosity, and sometimes even a marvel, for being able to be speak Arabic fluently. In later life, I have noticed how Britons and Americans, with the exception of an impressively polyglottic minority, usually have the greatest difficulty of any nationality I know in acquiring another language, no matter how desperately they want to.”(more)

Foreign language skills important in our global environment

Delaware Online – Dr. Annette Giesecke

“Fluency in a foreign language involves knowledge beyond ordering meals in a restaurant. Foreign language students are students of literature, business, art, history and diplomacy. They understand the complex intricacies of world cultures and can effectively communicate to promote mutual respect, cooperation and problem solving in an increasingly global and multicultural environment. There are also less obvious benefits of foreign language study. Research has shown that foreign language study helps children develop cognitive skills and native language reading ability. Foreign language study enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students of foreign language are not limited by the restrictions of a single perspective or world view. They employ diverse approaches to problem solving…”(more)

Teachers who hail from abroad bring the world to local classrooms

The Washington Post – Moriah Balingit

“Many of the students at Potomac View Elementary in Woodbridge hail from Guatemala, El Salvador or Mexico, sometimes showing up at school within days or weeks of their arrival to the United States. The adjustment — to longer school days, to a new language and to new friends — can be difficult. There is one teacher who understands that more keenly than others. Pablo Giudici moved from Argentina in the fall…Giudici is one of 56 teachers in Prince William who came to the county’s classrooms through the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program, which brings teachers from around the world to work as world-language and general-education teachers for U.S. children…David Young, chief executive of VIF International Education, said the program was designed with the idea that students — even those who may never travel outside the United States — should be exposed to global perspectives.”(more)

Why International Students Benefit from Going to College in America

Forbes – Daniel R. Porterfield

““Education is all a matter of building bridges,” said the novelist Ralph Ellison. As the president of Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), I see such construction happening every day. More than one-third of our current first-year class comes from at least 1,000 miles away—and 14 percent of our entire student body is made up of international students, hailing from 55 countries. Such international reach reflects the increasingly global character of today’s American campuses…philosopher Martha Nussbaum believes we must cultivate in undergraduates capabilities like “the ability to assess historical evidence, to use and think critically about economic principles, to assess accounts of social justice, to speak a foreign language, to appreciate the complexities of the major world religions.” These are characteristic values of American colleges and universities—qualities of education that the international community is increasingly coming to see as essential for our interdependent multicultural world…it also benefits American students to attend colleges with global student bodies. Again and again, U.S.-born students describe the transformational value of learning with and from peers from around the world…Everyone wins when tomorrow’s global leaders spend their formative years learning intensively, sharing cultures, solving problems and building bridges, together.”(more)