Learning Strategies Blog

Our Diverse, Bilingual Society: A Premeditation on the Face of Tomorrow’s Future

Over the past few years it doesn’t take much observation to recognize the US is indeed becoming more and more of a bilingual society. Despite assumptions that English is still the dominant language, it is now very common to see bilingual advertisements anywhere from your local DMV to a fast food restaurant. In the past, society has often assumed bilingualism was a sign that one hadn’t adapted properly to American society but over time preconception have changed and science can back it up. So what does this mean for American society? Well not much to be honest, things will continue going along the way that they always have only now with a much colorful chatter in the background. This idea of “foreign language” or “foreign people” entrenching onto society as a whole is soon going to be challenged by the reality not all people are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing. By breaking down the barriers of language and culture society can become more inclusive and diverse. With multiple points of view being considered decisions can be made that don’t just benefit one faction of society but all of society as a whole. It’s definitely safe to say that it’s human nature to split off into groups, to surround ourselves with the safe, the familiar. This is why people have what’s essentially an attachment to their culture or religion. They have an emotional connection to it which is much stronger than any strain of rational thought. This inherent part of the human condition is within all of us, and is the reason humanity builds societies and forms... read more

“But I’m Too Old!” Why it’s never too late to learn a Foreign Language

We get it, you’re self-conscious about it. There’s no reason to be ashamed. Maybe it was that one time your friend started to converse in flawless French with the waiter for twenty minutes while you just sat there staring awkwardly at your soufflé. Or maybe it was that other time where one of your co-workers got that big promotion because they were able to converse with clients in Mandarin. Life can be hard out there for us mono-linguists! Perhaps we just never got around to it huh? Maybe we just took too many classes and weren’t able to fit in that one Spanish elective. Whatever the case, you didn’t do it and find yourself wishing you did. Especially after fumbling around with Google Translate or being unable to make conversation with someone so you just smiled and nodded the whole time. All perfectly viable reasons. “But I never got the chance!” Screams that tiny voice in your head. How’re you supposed to compete with all the kids these days in their fancy language classes learning how to say this and how to say that? You had other schoolwork to do! How in the world were you supposed to make time to learn an entirely new language? And you know of course there’s no hope of learning one now. Everyone knows that children have a phenomenal ability to pick up new languages while adults struggle with basic sentence structure. Face it: You missed the bus when it comes to becoming bi-lingual and there’s no possible way you could start now. Except that isn’t even close to true. The truth is... read more

Are bilingual kids smarter?

Let’s face it: kids are weird. One second your teaching them how to eat peas, the next they’re presenting you their scientific findings on photosynthesis. Their young minds are ever changing and always susceptible to picking up new information much quicker than you or I could. Multiple languages being no different. But this isn’t just about showing off to the parents during playtime. Recent studies have shown that bilingual kids are actually able to look at problems in new and creative ways. Currently, Canadian researchers have begun to look into how the ability to speak more than one language can directly impact the effectiveness of problem solving skills in toddlers. While it might initially be hard for a child to switch from English to Spanish, the mere fact that they are switching means they’re more adept to solving trickier problems. Problems such as identifying the color of a certain text even when it’s been switched or as it’s called by educators the Stroop effect. Psychologists have said that the amount of lingual switching that occurs as the children grow older and their vocabulary size increases directly impacts other forms of brain function and lead to superior performance on certain conflict tasks. Mainly due to bilinguals’ strengthened cognitive flexibility and selective attention abilities that they gain from constantly switching languages. Another researcher at Concordia University found an additional example of how bilingual children can benefit from non-language tasks. They administered certain tests: Reverse categorization—participants were told to put a set of little blocks into a little bucket and big blocks into a big bucket. Then the instructions were switched—big blocks... read more

Is English the dominant language in the U.S.?

You’ve seen these types before. Whether it’s your old uncle posting those uncomfortably racist articles on Facebook or one of those “Speak English or get the Hell Out” bumper stickers you happened to glance at when that Hummer cut you off there’s no question that there’s still plenty of people out there deluding themselves to their English-speaking superiority. Sure, it’s one thing to only speak English on account of laziness but a whole other to claim you’re speaking the master-dialect or something like that. They’re not the only ones though. It’s shocking to learn that only a few decades ago teachers were taping their student’s mouths shut for speaking Spanish along the US-Mexico border. But enough about Donald Trump’s proposed immigrant policy. The fact is that our world grows more and more bi-lingual every day and there is a plethora of reasons to acquire multi-language skills. One such benefit is it’ll boost your opportunity in the job sector, that’s right according to the US Census Bureau about 12 percent of US Residents speak Spanish at home. Leading to a dramatic increase in jobs that require or at least would prefer someone who speaks Spanish. If it weren’t solely for the fact that being bilingual can also make you smarter than also consider this: by 2050 it’s predicted that the US will be the largest Spanish speaking country, according to Humberto Lopez Morales, a general secretary of the Association of Spanish Language Academies. Of course statistics aside being bilingual in today’s world is one of the best options you could possibly take. As the workplace becomes even more and more... read more

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