NABE Weekly eNews
Dec. 24, 2014

Parents lie on survey to identify English learners
The Associated Press via Yahoo News
From Nov. 20: Nieves Garcia came from Mexico at age 6 and spent most of her elementary school years in California classified as an "English learner" even after she had picked up the language. Now a 32-year-old mother, she didn't want her daughter labeled the same way and subjected to additional testing. And so she lied. When Garcia signed up her daughter for kindergarten, she answered a standard four-question survey by saying her family spoke only English at home, even though her husband doesn't speak the language. More

Are musicians better language learners?
The Guardian (commentary)
From March 13: Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay, a contributor for The Guardian, writes: "Today's economic environment demands that our children become the very best they can be. A lot of demands are placed upon us as parents, and whether we like it or not, we need to help our children navigate their way in today's fast-paced world and build their skills for the future. But not all methods, from flashcards to baby signing, actually boost a child's intelligence, language skills or other abilities for success. Reading through many research papers from peer-reviewed scientific journals, I discovered that music training is the only proven method to boost the full intellectual, linguistic and emotional capacity of a child." More

Summarizing the research on dual language learners
From Oct. 30: It's impossible to have a conversation about dual language learners in the United States without being drawn into questions about their "difference," and just how much it should be taken into account at school. For years, English-only advocates have argued that these differences should be ignored or erased, that we need to educate DLLs much as we educate monolingual English students — with English instruction. More

The best language for math
The Wall Street Journal
From Sept. 25: Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish use simpler number words and express math concepts more clearly than English, making it easier for small children to learn counting and arithmetic, research shows. The language gap is drawing growing attention amid a push by psychologists and educators to build numeracy in small children — the mathematical equivalent of literacy. Confusing English word names have been linked in several recent studies to weaker counting and arithmetic skills in children. However, researchers are finding some easy ways for parents to level the playing field through games and early practice. More

Does the language you speak influence how you think?
Mother Nature Network
From June 12: Suppose a friend said to you in English, "I'm visiting my uncle." From this sentence alone there's little you can glean about this uncle. However, if you and your friend spoke Korean and she told you she was visiting her uncle, you'd know several things about him based on what word for "uncle" she used. Let's say she informed you she was visiting samchon. This word alone would inform you that her uncle is her father's unmarried younger brother. In Korean, as in Chinese, the speaker has no choice but to encode this kind of information into the sentence. The languages require speakers to think about their family relationships when speaking of them. More

Could bilingual education mold kids' brains to better resist distraction?
From Oct. 2: For decades, psychologists cautioned against raising children bilingual. They warned parents and teachers that learning a second language as a child was bad for brain development. But recent studies have found exactly the opposite. Researchers now believe that when people learn another language, they develop cognitive advantages that improve their attention, self-control and ability to deal with conflicting information. Today the benefits of bilingualism are being put to the test in schools all across Utah. More

Bilingualism can help close learning gaps for immigrant students
National Journal
From May 8: The gospel of the day is that raising children to speak and understand more than one language is good for their cognitive development. A number of studies released in the past few years have indicated that multilingual speakers may even have more focused brains and higher processing abilities. Not surprisingly, this research — and the media attention that has accompanied it — has led to renewed efforts among more-affluent parents to secure spots for their children in language immersion schools and employ multilingual nannies who can expose their wee ones to another language from the earliest ages. More

Dual-language programs grow despite challenges
Houston Chronicle
From April 3: Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier announced during his State of the Schools speech in February that the district would greatly expand the number of campuses offering Spanish dual-language programs next school year. The planning has been taking place for months, with the 14 elementary schools gaining buy-in from the staff and the community, said Gracie Guerrero, HISD's assistant superintendent over multilingual programs. More

Study: Immigrant parents less likely to read to their children
From June 12: Minority children often lag behind their peers in language development when they start preschool. According to a new study, some of that disparity in school readiness may be due to differences in the frequency of "book sharing" among families. The study found that parents in Hispanic or Asian immigrant families in California were less likely to read or look at picture books with their young children than non-Hispanic white parents. More

4 favorite tools for English language learning
eSchool News
From June 12: Here are reviews of four high-quality digital tools that can help teach English language skills, courtesy of Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service — a free database of teacher-written reviews of learning technologies. More