Benefits of Bilingualism

Brilliant post that explains some of the benefits of bilingualism. They include;

1. A conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. Bilingual individuals can pick out a speaker’s voice easier

3. Develop creativity because learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. Patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

and finally

5. Make smarter decisions as people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language 

Really interesting thanks to for this story.

Recent research suggests that learning a new language, at any age, not only will enhance your next vacation or better prepare you for an upcoming business trip, it can also make you a better listener, boost your creativity, spur brain growth, and for some people, even delay Alzheimer’s.

Each of these benefits stems from the various ways that language learning improves your brain’s ability to focus. Learning a language physically changes your mind, ultimately making you a stronger, more creative thinker. Here are five reasons why you should start learning a foreign language right now:

1. To improve your communication skills. The key here is consciousness. While most of us rarely think about the grammatical structures of our native tongue, learning a second language brings them into stark relief. When attempting to write or speak in a second language, you suddenly have to focus more on the order of words, your verb tenses, and parts of speech. And in recognizing how sentences are constructed in a second language, you can become more aware of how they’re arranged in your first language. That more conscious approach can help you clean up your writing and your speech and help you communicate more clearly.

2. To become a better listener. A study at Northwestern University showed that bilingual individuals could better pick out a speaker’s voice amidst distracting noises. This superior “attention, inhibition, and encoding of sound,” as the researchers put it, can help you better focus on what a client, boss, or employee is saying. The ability to listen closely is a valuable skill that can translate into a real dollar value. Look at IKEA, which attributes its record 2012 revenues and growing appeal in part to its ability to listen to customers and then respond accordingly.

3. To boost your creativity. Every time you speak a second language is an exercise in creativity. While words in your native language might string themselves together naturally, requiring little effort on your part, constructing sentences and meaning in a second language often requires more conscious thought. A study published last year found that learning a foreign language enhanced people’s fluency, elaboration, originality, and flexibility, the four scales measured by the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. Researchers concluded that learning a second language improved speakers’ planning, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, three pillars on which creativity is built.

4. To sharpen your mind. Learning a second language can beef up your brain’s executive control center — the hub that helps manage your cognitive processes. A second language offers a strong exercise regimen for the executive control center, ultimately making it more efficient. Bilingualism can keep this center strong even as you age. In a study of 24 million dementia patients worldwide, many of whom also had Alzheimer’s, researchers found that the patients who spoke more than one language had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years after their monolingual counterparts.

5. To make smarter decisions. A study completed last year showed that people thinking in a foreign language were more likely to consider a question more slowly and analytically than in their native language. It seems that thinking in your native tongue is often associated with breezy, emotional decision-making that reveals natural biases. But when considering the same problem in a non-native tongue, subjects in the study demonstrated “enhanced deliberation” based more on cold hard logic. So the next time you have to make a big decision, you might get a better outcome if you consider it in a language other than your own.

As a language learner, you’ll not only become a more conscious thinker and listener who can communicate clearly and think creatively, but you’ll also gain the most significant benefit of multilingualism: a broader, more global perspective. Each of the five benefits outlined above show that learning another language really does reshape the way we think, helping us better empathize and communicate with customers, partners, and employees by adopting, through language, a new way to see the world.

field, farmland Character #527: 田

This character/symbol actually looks a little like what it represents – field or farmland

來學正體字 Learn Traditional Chinese Characters

527The character 田(ㄊㄧㄢˊ) means field or farmland. Here is the stroke order animation and pronunciation. Here are the individual strokes for writing the character. Here is the definition in Taiwanese Mandarin. Here is the evolution of 田.

田(ㄊㄧㄢˊ)園(ㄩㄢˊ) – countryside
田(ㄊㄧㄢˊ)地(ㄉㄧˋ) – farmland, field
田(ㄊㄧㄢˊ)徑(ㄐㄧㄥˋ) – the sport track and field, literally field and track

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Activities for foreign language acquisition

Visit this blog for a range of activities to support language acquisition. or see summary below. Thanks Steve.

Below is a list of common writing activities in the target language which can be carried out in a classroom or in some cases online. Most of these would be done within a sequence of activities, often following oral activities to improve comprehension, embed vocabulary or syntactic rules, and improve accuracy of speech and writing.

Much writing will be done at home so as to maximise classroom time for listening and oral activity. Writing should nearly always be in the target language, although there will be times when using English makes more sense e.g. when taking notes on a harder spoken or written passage. The teacher will always need to adapt to the needs of the particular class.

  • Copywriting from a book or the board to establish simple spellings
  • Writing down words spelled out orally
  • Writing down answers to oral questions
  • Writing down answers to written questions
  • Filling gaps (with options given or not given)
  • Writing down corrected answers to false statements given orally
  • Writing down corrected answers to false statements written down
  • Writing down the correct one of two or more alternative statements provided orally
  • Writing short phrase statements or just true/false on a mini whiteboard
  • Taking notes to an audio or spoken source
  • Completing an information grid based on a written source
  • Completing an information grid or transcription based on a spoken source
  • Writing sentences or a narrative based on a picture or picture sequence
  • Writing sentences from short notes (e.g. diary entries)
  • Completing a sentence or text with the correct form of a given verb or adjective
  • Transposing sentences or text from one person to another
  • Putting jumbled words into a correct sentence
  • Summarising from an English text
  • Summarising from a target language text
  • Writing down solutions to anagrams (either written ones or ones provided orally)
  • Dictation: transcribing words, phrases, sentences or passages from audio or read by teacher
  • Paired dictation e.g. running dictation”
  • Writing a traditional discursive essay
  • Translating into the target language from a written source
  • Translating into the target language from an oral source
  • Writing a passage from a template
  • Writing lists e.g. shopping lists, desert island game, strip bingo game
  • Word association – teacher gives a word, pupil writes first word to come into head
  • Antonyms – teacher gives a word, pupil writes down opposite meaning
  • Writing short accounts from a given word list. Every word must appear in the account
  • Completing sentence starters from an oral source
  • Completing sentence starters from a written source
  • Starting sentence ends from an oral or written source
  • Noting synonyms or antonyms in a written passage
  • Writing poems or music lyrics
  • Writing definitions of words
  • Completing a crossword or acrostic
  • Making up original sentences to show a grammatical structure
  • Completing a vocabulary list e.g. finding words in a target language text
  • Writing for a purpose e.g letter, news article, job application, obituary, diary
  • Transforming a text message into full sentences (or the reverse)
  • Underlining errors in a transcribed text and inserting the correct word or phrase
  • Writing social network messages to a foreign speaker
  • Writing words as part of a game (e.g. baccalauréat – find a word in each category beginning with a given letter)
  • Writing sentences for a game of “consequences”
  • Writing on the board or with a partner e.g. “Hangman”
  • Code breaking games
  • Writing “never-ending sentences”
  • Writing nonsense or silly sentences

The Multilingual World of Irish Dance

What a brilliant observation and just why bilingualism and being able to speak languages can be really important to children and young people. There are those that believe the later you leave it to learn a language the better whereas in reality the younger the better and using it in context is the best way to go.

on raising bilingual children

Over the weekend, I spent many hours running the canteen at an Irish dance “Feis”. My daughter is a dancer, and every year they host a competition, attracting dancers from various parts of Europe. Over the weekend, I spoke to people from Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Finland, England, Ireland, the US and Canada. The most satisfying part of the experience was being able to help people in their own language. People say that English is the global language, and that if you speak English you don’t need anything else. I disagree, and this weekend was a good example of why. When people approached my canteen counter, I could often tell they were hesitant to order – worried about which language to use, and not wanting to get it wrong. I quickly figured out that the best way to put them at ease was to offer “English, francais or nederlands?”. I…

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Good Practice – Using the outside classroom to promote pupils’ safety, raise expectations and attainment for all and narrow the achievement gap across the broad curriculum.

What a brilliant idea taking the children outside and around their area to see things for real rather than using pictures on the internet.  Through these life skills they can see sizes relevant to their surroundings and themselves. They benefit from seeing the animals real colours and the changes within species, they can put maths into practice thereby ensuring it becomes more embedded in their mind. This  works just as well for the vulnerable groups giving them more time to see the object, learn the word, practice it in context and have a good experience to draw on.

It is a difficult decision taking children out on schools trips and recent experiences of others, that have been shown via the media, have stopped many of these worthwhile practices to the level that in some schools the children are not being allowed outside within the school grounds to do maths and science trails. Yet done with care the children and staff can achieve the curriculum aims and have the benefit of fresh air and exercise.

Not surprising then that a school that combines these elements is deemed outstanding by OFSTED.   This primary school regularly uses learning outside the classroom on its own site, in its local area and on visits and trips to provide rich experiences, promote pupils’ safety, raise expectations and attainment for all and narrow the achievement gap across the broad curriculum. Read their story here.


Merry Christmas Everyone

In readiness for the 1st Of December.  Here is Merry Christms in lots of languages. If yours isnt included please add in the commnet box. Merry Christmas to all of my followers.

Afrikaans: Geseënde  Kersfees
Afrikander: Een  Plesierige Kerfees
African/ Eritrean/  Tigrinja : Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
Albanian : Gezur Krislinjden
Arabic: Milad  Majid
Argentine: Feliz Navidad
Armenian : Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari  Gaghand
Azeri : Tezze  Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
Bahasa Malaysia : Selamat Hari Natal
Basque : Zorionak eta Urte Berri  On!
Bohemian : Vesele Vanoce
Brazilian : Feliz Natal
Bengali : Shubho borodin
Breton : Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bulgarian : Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
Catalan : Bon  Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
Chile : Feliz Navidad
Chinese Cantonese : Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
Chinese Mandarin : Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan  
Choctaw : Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
Columbia : Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Cornish : Nadelik  looan na looan blethen noweth
Corsian : Pace e salute
Crazanian : Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
Cree : Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
Croatian : Sretan  Bozic
Czech : Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
Danish : Glædelig Jul
Duri : Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
Dutch : Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or  Zalig Kerstfeast
English : Merry  Christmas

Eskimo : (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame  pivdluaritlo!
Esperanto : Gajan Kristnaskon
Estonian :  Ruumsaid  juulup|hi
Ethiopian : (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal 

Eritfean/ Tigrinja : Rehus- Beal- Ledeats

Faeroese : Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
Farsi : Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
Finnish : Hyvaa  joulua
Flemish : Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
French : Joyeux Noel
Frisian : Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije  Jier!
Faeroese : Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar! 
Fyrom : Sreken Bozhik
Galician : Bo Nada
Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
German : Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek : Kala Christouyenna! 
Greenlandic :  Juullimi Pilluaritsi!

Haiti : (Creole)  Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto
Hausa : Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar  Shekara!
Hawaiian : Mele Kalikimaka
Hebrew : Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
Hindi : Baradin ki  shubh kamnaaye
Hausa : Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
Hawaian : Mele  Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Hungarian : Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket

Icelandic : Gledileg Jol
Indonesian : Selamat Hari Natal
Iraqi : Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit, or Nodlaig mhaith  chugnat
Iroquois : Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat  osrasay.
Italian : Buone Feste Natalizie
Japanese : Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

Korean : Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Lao : souksan van Christmas
Latin : Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!
Latvian : Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno  Gadu!
Lausitzian : Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
Lettish : Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
Lithuanian : Linksmu Kaledu
Maltese : IL-Milied It-tajjeb
Manx : Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
Maori : Meri Kirihimete
Marathi : Shub Naya Varsh

Navajo : Merry Keshmish
Norwegian : God Jul, or Gledelig Jul
Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado

Papiamento : Bon Pasco
Papua New Guinea : Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long  yu
Pennsylvania German :  En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
Peru : Feliz Navidad  y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
Philipines : Maligayan Pasko!
Polish : Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese : Feliz Natal
Pushto : Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha

Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi.  Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
Rhetian : Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn
Romanche : (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev  onn!
Romanian :   Craciun Fericit
Russian : Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is  Novim Godom
Sami : Buorrit Juovllat

Samoan : La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Sardinian : Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
Serbian : Hristos se rodi
Slovakian : Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
Samoan : La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
Scots Gaelic : Nollaig chridheil huibh
Serbian : Hristos se rodi.
Singhalese : Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak  Vewa
Slovak : Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
Slovene : Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Leto
Spanish : Feliz Navidad
Swedish : God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
Tagalog : Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
Tami : Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal
Trukeese : (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer  seefe feyiyeech!
Thai : Sawadee Pee Mai or souksan wan Christmas
Turkish :  Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian : Srozhdestvom Kristovym
Urdu : Naya Saal Mubarak Ho
Vietnamese : Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

Welsh : Nadolig Llawen

Yoruba : E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!
Yugoslavian : Cestitamo Bozic

With thanks to :


Different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners and having a common language erases borders.

Growing up in Wales, speaking Welsh sometimes in school reading bilingual signs for what seems to be forever is what reminds me of my childhood. There was no fear just acceptance that that was the way it was. Luckily at this point I didn’t know about the Welsh not and was horrified when I learnt of it during my late teenage years and remember not understanding why we went through that process in our history.

This news item interested me because the languages that are bilingual are not commonly put together today and also in many ways it mirrors some of the facts and experiences of my childhood where Welsh and English were part of daily life. In my experience some people knew only Welsh, some only English and others were on a path between the two.

Here is the story.

Languages have always fascinated me.  From an early age I realized that different groups of people spoke different languages–and the words they used provided a window into unique worldviews.

This was because I grew up in a bilingual community in Western Kansas.  To visit Hays, Kansas, today, a person might not realize, but in the first half of the twentieth century, a majority of the population did not speak English as a native language, but rather German.  The German speakers were descendants of as group called the Volga Germans, Bavarians who had immigrated to Russia for nearly a century, and then immigrated to the Great Plains of the United States.

My family owned a lumber yard and hardware store.  All of our store clerks were bilingual in German, since most of the farmers only spoke German, and many of the contractors preferred German for their daily needs.  Although my family was also of Germanic origin — we came from Switzerland in the mid-nineteenth century — we had abandoned our language nearly a century earlier.  My father had to make do with what he called “kitchen German.”

My best childhood friend came from a German-speaking family.  Although his parents were fully bilingual, his grandparents much preferred German.  There were kids in my class who spoke a very heavily German accented English, even though they were third generation Americans. In spite of being surrounded by German, it just never found its way into the language center of my brain, except for a few stock phrases, and (sadly) swear words.

As a result of a quirk of fate, my father had begun travelling in Mexico when he was in college, in the late 1930s.  My parents honeymooned in Mexico, and in the early 1950s we began to vacation in Mexico every year at Christmastime.  As a result, from a very young age, I was also introduced to Spanish, and being a small child immersed in the language, I began to pick it up, in a manner that never happened with German for me.

Growing up in a multilingual environment was a gift to me, and certainly affected how I view the world. So it felt natural to concentrate on language during my university studies. I served as an assistant instructor of Spanish and went on to pick up Nahuatl (the Aztec language) as I studied early colonial Latin America earning my doctorate. It was an interesting challenge to learn a complex language like Nahuatl as an adult, compared to how seemingly simple it had been to pick up Spanish when I was a boy.

Growing up in a multilingual environment is very beneficial for the intellectual development of a child.  Folks used to think that if a child grew up in a multilingual home, the child would suffer from never achieving true fluency in either language, or perhaps confusing one language for the other.  Modern research has proven just the opposite.  Children keep track of languages very efficiently.  Rather than diminishing their language skills, it enhances them.  This might be because different languages force the brain to perceive reality and describe it in different manners.  This confirms the old saw: “The brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised.”

My wife and I saw this first-hand.  Our older son was raised in a bilingual environment, learning both Spanish and English from infancy.  When he was a toddler, we had great difficulty when he spoke to us in Spanish, because neither of us had learned Spanish baby talk.  Folks around us had to interpret for us.  As a Spanish teacher myself, it was very exciting to hear our son make exactly the same grammatical errors that his little friends did; errors which a native English speaker would not usually commit when learning Spanish, but perfectly in line with language development in Spanish. His Spanish skills have gone on to serve him very well in adulthood..

The study of foreign languages is simply the gift that keeps on giving.  It provides a person with multiple perspectives from which to view the world.  It actually strengthens the mind.  It allows a person to travel to other countries, which is also a great gift.  Most importantly, having a common language erases borders.  It allows one to put others at ease.