Saturday, December 3, 2011

Language News Update

A bit of time has passed since your language news aggregator last reported on linguistic progress, but that doesn't mean there is nothing to report today.
  • In the area of children and language development, a Norwegian study found that "there is no evidence that early centre-based childcare is harmful for most children." Specifically in relation to language development, the article states: "Childcare is an important arena for language development and learning and for preventing and coping with mental health issues." Personally, I am thankful for childcare because it is helping my son learn English. At home we speak only French and Spanish to him.
  • Along the same lines, parents, that dreaded phrase "peer pressure" applies to linguistics, too. In relation to children and language, as with anything, it can be a highly positive phenomenon.
  • Perhaps because of this linguistic peer pressure, it is a bad idea to segregate boys and girls in school.
  • One final note about children: my soul-searching about children and TV may have been slightly premature. Used appropriately, maybe some TV is educational.
  • Moving on to language pedagogy in general, "Students who in addition to their traditional German language courses are taught other courses in German end up with both a stronger vocabulary and a better communicative ability." This is generalized to presume that immersion in any language is better than only courses about that language.
  • In neurolinguistics, bilingualism holds off Alzheimer's much better and longer than monolingualism. (And this is not news, but if you cannot accept "monolingual" or "monolingualism" as words, then get off my blog.)
  • In odd linguistic news, one had best be (or become) a native English speaker if head or neck cancer is on the horizon. This has got to be mere statistical correlation (as opposed to obvious neurological factors in the study on bilingualism and Alzheimer's).
  • Last, and by far the most important of today's articles, the Wall Street Journal reports astonishing figures about how far more than a majority of scientific studies published in world-renowned, peer-reviewed journals have findings that cannot be reproduced. This is scary stuff, and not what one expects in the 21st century. Haven't we come a long way since a flat earth and putting leaches on people? Think twice before you completely accept any of the findings in any of today's other articles.

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