Languages for economic growth and individual prosperity

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Languages for economic growth and individual prosperity

Baroness Coussins, in the UK House of Lords Economy:Modern Languages debate of 3rd December, 2009, in speaking of the findings of the Worton Report on the future of modern languages provision in English universities, said, in part: “Professor Worton calls on the Government to up the ante on expectations for secondary schools. I hope that the Minister will agree to take this up with his DSF colleagues, in particular the need to upgrade to a mandatory target the current very vague hope that 50 to 60 per cent of students should take a language until they are 16. We know that  Continue Reading »

Intercultural Literacy

One sometimes wonders how one stumbled upon pivotal quotes. One reads them, pauses, reads them again, and realises how deceptively simple they appeared upon first reading. Here is one such quote: What we do in the world is circumscribed by the way we see things. Equally, the way we see the world is determined by what we are able to do in it. Richard Hames – author,”The Five Literacies of Global Leadership” Our challenge – how do we educate our young to see the world in ways which enable them to do things which bridge difference and grow collaboration for a sustainable  Continue Reading »

Getting serious about integrating Languages into the curriculum

The recent ACER Report, Second Languages in Australian Schooling, by Professor Jo Lo Bianco, provides a timely and comprehensive summary of the history and potential of Languages programs in this country offset against overseas experience. Various experiments with languages in primary schools around the world have failed to produce the hoped for results. “Drip feed” models have produced limited proficiency and sense of success for students, and little meaningful articulation into secondary schooling. Tokenistic timetabling, coupled with a lack of leadership understanding of how languages are acquired, has often undermined programs offered, even when the Languages teacher is highly effective.  Continue Reading »

Exploding the myth that children need to choose between second language learning and first language literacy

Norman Doidge, M.D., in his fascinating, hopeful book on neuroplasticity, The BRAIN That CHANGES ITSELF, cites significant research which shows that early learning of second languages in particular benefits the brain. Education stakeholders need to recognise, as scientists do, that “if two languages are learned at the same time, during the critical period (of brain development), both get a foothold.”  In fact, if we learn another language prior to the period from 8 years of age to puberty, we can speak it with native pronunciation, something we are unlikely to be able to do beyond this age. So why, in  Continue Reading »

Brains Benefit from Multilingualism

In a recent recent article entitled thus, the Science Daily, November 26, 2009, reports on a significant research project undertaken by a research team appointed by the European Commission. David Marsh, the Project Coordinator, says that neuroscientific research especially offers increasingly  strong evidence of versatile knowledge of languages being beneficial for the individual’s brain. Marsh reports:  “The research report cites six main areas where multilingualism and hence the mastery of complex processes of thought seem to put people in advantage.  These include learning in general, complex thinking and creativity, mental flexibility, interpersonal and communication skills, and even a possible delay  Continue Reading »