International company moves to area with more bilingual speakers.- USA

Many people argue that there is no point in keeping the learners first langauge alive as “they are in our country so they should use our language”.  There has not really been a  good reply, but this story shows how keeping the language alive allows companies to grow and become successful, and also regionally it can keep jobs in a certain area. Thinking of the amount of money it costs councils etc to attract companies the last thing they want to do is lose them.

It all stems from Chiquita Brands moving it headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte as they have more bilingual speakers. Cincinnati are fighting back by creating a database of Bilingual speakers.

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/29baffe64a8542b086fa94c0ac314855/OH–Cincinnati-Hispanics

CINCINNATI — A Cincinnati business group has launched a searchable database of the region’s multilingual students and professionals.

The Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber said it will spend the next few months building the database. Chamber president Alfonso Cornejo told The Cincinnati Enquirer that the goal is to connect those with language skills with companies and organizations who work with diverse domestic markets or operate internationally.         It’s meant as a development tool, and also to showcase the Cincinnati region’s resources. It’s expected to be available for searching by next February. He hopes to have 5,000 people registered within three years.

The database is being developed in partnership with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. The chamber’s corporate partner members, universities and churches will have unlimited access, while others will have limited access, Cornejo said.

The project was triggered partly as a response to the decision by Chiquita Brands International last year to move its headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte, N.C., which has more bilingual people. The banana company cited that as among the reasons it made its move.

Some 5 percent of Cincinnati residents speak a language other than English. While the database can’t increase Cincinnati’s bilingual rate, it will help businesses like Chiquita locate those with language abilities.

“We were very frustrated that we lost Chiquita brands,” Cornejo said. “In the opinion of (Chiquita chief executive officer Fernando Aguirre), there was not enough bilingual talent in Cincinnati compared to Charlotte. Up to a point, he’s right. But we intend to overcome that.”

Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

parent academies – will these be GOVE’s next UK Education innovation?

I read with interest that in America Illinois is to be the next state to introduce parent academies.  These support parents with information relating to educational expectations including what standardised testing is.  Sadly my first thought was will this be Mr Gove’s next radical idea, not that it is necessarily a bad one, but if it is not well thought out and delivered well then it will be a waste of money and energy and those who it is supposed to support will be its biggest criticisers.

The Advisory Council will discuss the possibility of parent academies to teach parents about standardized testing, homework strategies, and student-teacher relationships.

http://www.wrex.com/story/19237963/illinois-law-strengthens-bilingual-education

CHICAGO (WREX) –

A new law signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday hopes to strengthen bilingual education in the state through study and parent academies.

House Bill 3819 will require the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education to review the success rate of bilingual programs, examine initiatives like parent academies and cultural competency programs, and give a report on their findings to the State Superintendent of Education, Governor, and General Assembly by the first of the year.

In 2010 there were 183,000 students (almost ten percent of the student population) in Illinois for whom English was not a first language. Eighty percent of students enrolled in English language programs spoke Spanish, with Polish, Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, Korean, Cantonese/Mandarin, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and Russian rounding out the top ten.

The Advisory Council will discuss the possibility of parent academies to teach parents about standardized testing, homework strategies, and student-teacher relationships. Similar programs have been successful in other states.

“Parents of non-English speaking students want—and need—to feel a greater stake in navigating their child’s education,” Representative Chapa LaVia, Chairperson for the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations Committee, said. “This new law opens the door to such innovations as ‘parent academies’ to accomplish that.”

The bill passed both chambers unanimously and will take effect on January 1

Research shows that Bilingual children have “an aptitude for selective attention” and an ability to filter and focus on information.

Further to the last story this from the BBC highlights the demonstrable benefits whilst challenging the sceptics view that it (bilingualism) can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them (the learners).

Bilingual children outperform children who speak only one language in problem-solving skills and creative thinking, according to a new study.Researchers set lingual, arithmetical and physical tasks for 121 children, aged about nine, in Scotland and Sardinia, Italy. They found that the 62 bilingual children were “significantly more successful in the tasks set for them“.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Bilingualism.

The Glasgow-based children spoke English and Gaelic, or English only, while the Sardinian cohort spoke either Italian only, or Italian and Sardinian.

Gaelic ‘advantage’

They were asked to reproduce patterns of coloured blocks, to repeat orally a series of numbers, to give clear definitions of words and to resolve mentally a set of arithmetic problems. The tasks were all set in English or Italian.

Researchers found that the bilingual children were “significantly more successful in the tasks set for them”.

There was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils”

 Dr Fraser Lauchlan Strathclyde University

They observed that the Gaelic-speaking children were more successful than the Sardinian speakers.

The differences were linked to the mental alertness required to switch between languages, which could develop skills useful in other types of thinking.

The study found that the further advantage for Gaelic-speaking children may have been due to the formal teaching of the language and its extensive literature.

Sardinian is not widely taught in schools on the Italian island and has a largely oral tradition, which means there is currently no standardised form of the language.

The study was conducted by Strathclyde University with colleagues from the University of Cagliari in Sardinia. It was led by Dr Fraser Lauchlan, an honorary lecturer at Strathclyde’s school of psychological sciences.

He said: “Bilingualism is now largely seen as being beneficial to children but there remains a view that it can be confusing, and so potentially detrimental to them.

‘Demonstrable benefits’

“Our study has found that it can have demonstrable benefits, not only in language but in arithmetic, problem solving and enabling children to think creatively.

“We also assessed the children’s vocabulary, not so much for their knowledge of words as their understanding of them. Again, there was a marked difference in the level of detail and richness in description from the bilingual pupils.”

Dr Lauchlan said that the bilingual children were seen to have “an aptitude for selective attention” and an ability to filter and focus on information which is important.

It is thought that this may come from the “code-switching” of thinking in two different languages.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-19109883

Another story about this can be found at http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=34907