Posts Tagged ‘Learning Foreign Languages’

Benefits of learning a new language

September 6th, 2012 No comments

What does research show about the benefits of language learning?

In this age of accountability in education, policymakers and administrators, as well as parents, are increasingly demanding to know what research studies show regarding the benefits of language learning.  This document will identify some of the major correlation studies that highlight how language learners benefit from their experiences.

Three major areas have been identified:

How does language learning support academic achievement?

How does language learning provide cognitive benefits to students?

How does language learning affect attitudes and beliefs about language learning and about other cultures?

Gray Matter: Why Bilinguals Are Smarter

March 28th, 2012 No comments
Published in NY Times: March 17, 2012

SPEAKING two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world. But in recent years, scientists have begun to show that the advantages of bilingualism are even more fundamental than being able to converse with a wider range of people. Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.

This view of bilingualism is remarkably different from the understanding of bilingualism through much of the 20th century. Researchers, educators and policy makers long considered a second language to be an interference, cognitively speaking, that hindered a child’s academic and intellectual development. Read more…

Your brain dominance and language learning

March 28th, 2012 No comments

Your brain dominance and language learning


Some language skills involve analytical, sequential, and left-brain processing. Others involve right-brain skills such as guessing, associating, and getting the main idea.

Obviously, those with bilateral dominance have some advantages.

There are, however, good language learners with both left-brain or right-brain dominance who achieve a high degree of fluency and accuracy. They learn to use both left-brain and right-brain skills depending on what works best for the activity at hand. Read more…

Hearing Bilingual: How Babies Sort Out Language

March 19th, 2012 No comments
Published in NYTimes: October 10, 2011

Researchers found that at 6 months, the monolingual infants could discriminate between phonetic sounds, whether they were uttered in the language they were used to hearing or in another language not spoken in their homes. By 10 to 12 months, however, monolingual babies were no longer detecting sounds in the second language, only in the language they usually heard.

This represents a process of “neural commitment,” in which the infant brain wires itself to understand one language and its sounds.

In contrast, the bilingual infants followed a different developmental trajectory. At 6 to 9 months, they did not detect differences in phonetic sounds in either language, but when they were older — 10 to 12 months — they were able to discriminate sounds in both.

Bilingual children also develop crucial skills in addition to their double vocabularies, learning different ways to solve logic problems or to handle multitasking, skills that are often considered part of the brain’s so-called executive function.

Read more…

What are the hardest languages to learn?

June 25th, 2011 No comments

How high school curriculum and diploma choices relate to SAT scores and college choice

February 24th, 2011 No comments

How high school curriculum and diploma choices relate to SAT scores and college choice

Curriculum choices in high school, from ninth grade on have a direct effect on SAT scores and college choice. A series of recent studies conducted by Professor Ed St. John of the Indiana Education Policy Center for the Indiana Pathways project looking at national and Indiana college students from the (public) high school class of 2000 have shown how curriculum planning, course selection, and resulting diplomas relate to SAT scores and pathways to college.

Course selection had an impact on students’ SAT scores, particularly for students who took multiple advanced courses whether they were “A” or “B” GPA students, showing that a rigorous  curriculum benefits more students than just high achievers.  A’s in easy courses are not necessarily better than B’s in more advanced courses in terms of their impact on SAT scores.

Does foreign language study help students on the SAT even though there is no foreign language section on the test?

[vimeo][/vimeo]The results speak for themselves — Students who took four years of foreign language scored on average 38 points higher than students who took between one-to-three years. Students with no foreign language study scored on average 63 points lower on the SAT than students with one to three years of study. Study of Latin was associated with a 30 point increase on the SAT.

“We believe foreign language study helps students to understand language structure and vocabulary, important aspects of the SAT,” noted project research analyst and statistician Glenda D. Musoba.

Cognitive Benefits of Learning foreign Languages

December 12th, 2010 No comments

Many studies have demonstrated the benefits of second language learning not only on student’s linguistic abilities but on their cognitive and creative abilities as well. The DUKE GIFTED LETTER interviewed several experts in the field about the advantages of foreign language learning for children. Here is a summary of some interesting points:

Schools should begin foreign language instructions EARLY

Beginning foreign language instruction early sets the stage for students to develop advanced levels of proficiencies in one or more languages. In addition, younger learners still possess the capacity to develop near native-like pronunciation and intonation in a new language. Finally, young learners have a natural curiosity about learning which is evident when they engage in learning a new language. They also are open and accepting of people who speak other languages and come from other cultures.

Learning a foreign language can enhance children’s cognitive development

Children who learn a foreign language beginning in early childhood demonstrate certain cognitive advantages over children who do not. Research conducted in Canada with young children shows that those who are bilingual develop the concept of “object permanence” at an earlier age. Bilingual students learn sooner that an object remains the same, even though the object has a different name in another language. For example, a foot remains a foot and performs the function of a foot, whether it is labeled a foot in English or un pied in French.

Read more…