Multilingual Living’s Week in Review: May 29

by Corey · 0 comments

This is a review of the articles, Tweets, Facebook posts and more which went out this week in and around our Multilingual Living universe. Thank you everyone for sharing your tips, tweets, emails and more with me! Were it not for you, this post wouldn’t even be here!

The Bilingual Advantage
More than 10 people sent me the article The Bilingual Advantage this week via Twitter, email and Facebook. And what a great article it is! It is an interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Ellen Bialystok. I have been following Dr. Bialystok’s research ever since I first became interested in raising bilingual children. We regularly reported on her findings in Multilingual Living Magazine and I always give an overview of her research in my Raising Bilingual Children seminars.

What I have found most impressive about Dr. Bialystok is that she maintains a positive yet realistic view of her research. She doesn’t need to exaggerate it in order to get our attention and she consistently calls for moderation in how we utilize her findings: bilingualism has definite benefits but it isn’t some magic pill that will turn our children into geniuses. In The Bilingual Advantage Dr. Bialystok talks about her research, points out that living bilingually on a daily basis is the key to cognitive benefits, and tells us which languages her grandchildren speak.

Bilingual Brain Scans
Speaking of research, The Advantages of Being Bilingual is a great overview article about what is going on in the brains of language learners. What do all of these scans tell us about how the brain functions? What about when we learn a language – does it matter?

For a long time, it was believed that we reached a certain age and came to a halt; that our brain networks became fixed. It has now been proven that through learning and experience, through acting and reacting, our brains continue to change, continue to adjust and actually make a shift in physical anatomy. It means a change in the internal structure of neurons. It means new connections through neurons can be formed. It means an increase in the number of firing synapses between neurons. It means there’s hope.

Do you have family or friends who are interested in bilingualism and want to dig in a little deeper? Send them the link to The Advantages of Being Bilingual. It is an interesting read and will get them to want to learn even more!

We Are the Answer!
Want to know why children of dedicated multilingual parents tend to excel? Is it because of the brain benefits of bilingualism? That comes into play but it is just a tiny piece of the puzzle. The real answer lies with you: the parent. Each time you engage your child in something interesting and interactive, you are helping your child excel in so many ways. You are truly the answer to your child excelling in life!

To learn more about this, read Fast-Tracking to Kindergarten? How About a Good Track to Learning in Kindergarten and Beyond? It illustrates why sending our toddlers to Kumon enrichment programs is not the answer, nor is leaving our children to fend for themselves. The author gives us specific tips on how to engage our children in stimulating and engaging ways.

Just think about it: If you do these tips in your language, you will have added a whole additional layer of enrichment! And just think, it doesn’t take anything other than us, as we are, right now! We are the best app around, and it’s got the best price tag ever: FREE!

Where Do You Want to Be in 5 Years?
You don’t have to be on Facebook to enjoy the fantastic conversations that go on there. If you do have a Facebook account, then make sure to head over to the Multilingual Living Facebook page and click on the LIKE button so that you can keep up on the great discussions and fantastic research shared there! It’s one amazingly active community of mutilinguals!

This week one of the questions answered was about where you’d like to be in 5 years from now. Here are just a few of the wonderful answers! You can see the complete set of answers on the wall post.

If you would like to add your own answer, head over to the wall post and share! We’d enjoy knowing what your dreams are for the future.

Native Speaker or Non-Native Multilingual?
If you are going to learn a language, is it best to learn it from a native speaker or a multilingual who is not a native speaker? This is a very interesting question since our first assumption is almost always that we should learn from a native speaker, no matter what. But what if a non-native multilingual speaker can do a better job of teaching us the language? What if the non-native speaker can explain the language in a way that we can better grasp it and progress more quickly?

I posted the article English language best taught by native speakers or multilinguals? on the Multilingual Facebook page as well as Twitter and many interesting responses were shared. You can see some below:

It’s good to question the status quo from time to time. It forces us to examine what our assumptions are and whether there are any other ways that we might want to approach something. Being that we are bilinguals, we are able to be flexible in this way, right?

Make sure to also read Native V non-Native Language Teachers. It is an article written by Rachael Clugston which she posted a few weeks back, before this discussion got going into full swing. As you can see, she too was giving this whole topic some thought.

News, Stories, and More…
The following are news reports, research, stories and more that came my way via Twitter this week:

  • Japanese adults need an education in dealing with difference: Maria posted this opinion piece on the Multilingual Living Facebook page this week. It brings up some very important questions about how we treat children those who don’t look like they belong even though they have lived in the country their whole lives: “The government must lead by example and initiate a program designed to inform and educate the public of the need to treat all Japanese children in their country, even though some don’t look Japanese, as equals.”
  • Schools helping students become bilingual, biliterate: “Students for whom English isn’t the primary language do especially well in dual-language schools.’The one program that seems to close the achievement gap (for English Language Learners) is a dual-language program,’ Benitez said. That’s because ELL students at such schools ‘learn content in their native language as well as learning English,’ she said. ‘They’re not lacking anything.’ “
  • First dual-immersion class graduates: “Thirteen years ago, 26 kindergartners at Flowery Elementary School were part of an experimental program in the school district – a program called dual immersion. Next Friday, 21 of those original 26 will be the first dual-immersion class to graduate from Sonoma Valley High School.”
  • More Toddlers Enrolling In Language Immersion: ” ‘Thirty years from now, the average person will have a bachelors degree, maybe even a masters degree that might not set you apart,’ he says. ‘So what’s going to set you apart, its going to be those unique characteristics like speaking two, three, four languages.’ “
  • Children Learn Language in Moments of Insight, Not Gradually Through Repeated Exposure, Study Shows: “New research by a team of University of Pennsylvania psychologists is helping to overturn the dominant theory of how children learn their first words, suggesting that it occurs more in moments of insight than gradually through repeated exposure.”
  • Liberal arts college teaching in a second language: “These students still will be able to pursue a major in any of the college’s departments, but they will take about one-third of their core requirements in Spanish instead of English.”
  • Raising Children on Kugel and Kimchi, and as Jews: “After her husband stepped on the glass, and she survived the chair dance at their wedding without falling off, Emily Brecher changed into a traditional red Chinese dress.’Then my husband and I knelt down before my parents and my Jewish in-laws at the tea ceremony,’ Brecher recalled. ‘The dim sum hors d’oeuvres were a huge hit.’ “
  • Why Sudanese-American Children Are Learning Their Parents’ Language: “Bol has seven children, all born in the U.S., and he said none of them is really comfortable with the Nuer language. He said his 12-year-old daughter Nyagoa used to speak Nuer, but when she started school here, she lost it. ‘Now, I cannot communicate with her well in Nuer,’ Bol said. ‘She forces me to go and speak in English.’ “
  • Teaching Spanish to Native Spanish Speakers: A website from CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics). “This Web site has been developed to provide information about the Spanish-speaking population in the United States and to facilitate access to resources for working with Spanish speakers in Spanish language programs.”
  • Loss of a Language: “The British colonised our lands and now the Americans are colonising our languages. At this rate, we’ll lose a huge bank of literature and language. We must encourage our children to learn and listen to as many Indian languages as possible.”
  • Even More on Second Languages: “I examined the question of why two non-native speakers of a language could often understand each other more easily than if either of them was dealing with a native speaker. It turns out that actual knowledge exists on this point!”
  • Life is richer if experienced as a traveler: “I recognized that an interesting phenomenon occurred. I personally, and us as a family, started to change. The values of community, peace, justice, and ecological well-being contained in the words transformed me and our household, becoming part of our ‘philosophy of life.’ “
  • When a language dies, its culture dies: “Lately experiments have shown that grammatical genders can shape the feelings and associations of speakers toward objects around them. Do the emotional behaviour imposed by a gender system have higher-level behavioral consequences for our everyday life? Do they shape tastes, fashions, habits and preferences in the societies concerned?”
  • Aleppo-born linguist: we are able to conceive of ourselves and others only through language: “In his essay, Benveniste opines that language is fundamentally essential for our ability, as human beings, to conceive of ourselves, and that this necessarily occurs through language as each speaker appropriates the pronoun ‘I’, placing all things in the universe as objects in relation to himself as the subject. That the speaker designates himself as ‘I’, infers that he conceives of his conversation partner as ‘you’, hence establishing the very essence of the self through the mutual relationship between the two pronouns. Only by this appropriation is a human able to identify himself as a ‘person’, and access the consciousness of others.”
  • How Long Does It Take to Learn a New Language? “Language experts tend to be skeptical of claims that a certain method can guarantee fluency in a short period of time – and with good reason. The reality is that language acquisition is a complex process that involves communication, grammar, structure, comprehension and language production along with reading, writing, speaking and listening, just to name a few of the simpler aspects of language learning.”

Do you have any tips, suggestions or information that you would like to share with us at Multilingual Living? Join me on Twitter, get into the conversation on the Multilingual Living Facebook page, and send me an email whenever you’d like to connect. I always enjoy connecting with other bilingual and multilingual families!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

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