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HWRK Magazine: Issue 3 - Spring 2018

HWRK Magazine

HWRK

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CURRICULUM LANGUAGES 20 months Scientists at Princeton University in New York report bilingual infants as young as 20 months of age can efficiently and accurately process two languages just by listening. Try a little Dutch courage A new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, Maastricht University and King’s College London, shows bilingual speakers’ ability to speak a second language is improved after they have consumed alcohol. It is well established that alcohol impairs cognitive and motor functions, but it also increases self-confidence and reduces social anxiety, meaning the effects of low doses were under scrutiny. Dr Inge Kersbergen, from the University of Liverpool, said: “Our study shows acute alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on the pronunciation of a foreign language in people who recently learned that language. This provides some support for the lay belief (among bilingual speakers) that a low dose of alcohol can improve their ability to speak a second language.” BREAKING BARRIERS Hero’s welcome The Arts and Textiles teacher at Alperton Community School in Brent, North London was named as one of the world’s top 10 teachers in February, after she learnt 35 different languages to better communicate with her pupils and their parents. Andria Zafirakou was hailed by judge and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates for helping to build bridges in a community packed with migrant families by learning languages like Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil, Portuguese, Somali, Arabic, Romanian, Polish, Urdu and Italian. Immigrants shine Pupils who speak English as a second language are significantly outperforming native English speakers at GCSE level across the UK. A detailed breakdown of last summer’s exam results shows children who don’t have English as their mother tongue get, on average, roughly one and a half grades higher than those who do. The national average point score for native English speakers was 46.3, while for those who spoke English as a second language it was 47.7. BILINGUAL BENEFITS Start language study early Bilingual children will be far more receptive to learning additional languages later in life, according to a study published in the journal Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. The study, conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center, compared a group of English- Mandarin bilinguals with English-only speaking students and found the former picked up a third language far more efficiently. “There has been a lot of debate about the value of early bilingual language education,” says lead author Sarah Grey, an assistant professor at Fordham University. “Now, with this small study, we have novel brain-based data that points towards a distinct language-learning benefit for people who grow up bilingual.” HWRKMAGAZINE.CO.UK Spring 2018 // HWRK MAGAZINE // 11