ELL News Headlines

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Santa Barbara Public Library System Receives $10,000 Grant for Bilingual Children's Books

The Santa Barbara Public Library System is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the California State Library to purchase bilingual books for children. This grant is part of the California Immigrant Alliance Project, funded through the Library Services and Technology Act, a federal program administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. These books will be added to the existing bilingual children’s book collections of all branches of the library system, including the Central, Eastside, Goleta, Montecito, Carpinteria, Solvang, and Buellton libraries.

Bilinguals May Recognize Voices Better

A new study in Bilingualism: Language and Cognition shows an advantage in bilingual children when determining voices of who is talking (talker-voice information).  Countless studies have proven that there are many benefits, in both cognitive and social tasks, so the new findings on recognition of voices by Dr. Susannah Levi add to the growing pile of research in support of bilingualism.

Opinion: Embracing Bilingualism in the Classroom: What Role Will You Play?

Daniella Suárez is a mathematics instructor, a technology trailblazer at Palm Beach County schools, and a founding IB mathematics teacher at Royal Palm Beach High School in Royal Palm Beach, Fla. She writes, "The United States has often labeled itself a 'nation of immigrants,' yet Americans have always had a tense relationship with other languages, often dictated by politics. We also tend to forget that many 'immigrants' did not cross our borders, but rather that our U.S. borders crossed them."

UW Team Shows a Way to Teach Babies Second Language If Parents Only Speak One

For decades, researchers have built a compelling amount of evidence that the earlier you introduce a child to a second language, the stronger his or her bilingual skills will be. An infant's brain also appears to benefit from early exposure to two languages. Earlier this year, for example, a team at the University of Washington used neuroimaging to show that bilingual 11-month-olds demonstrated stronger activity in areas of the brain associated with problem solving and self-control. So when the regional government in Madrid, Spain, decided to boost bilingual education for infants there, officials asked the UW’s Institute of Learning & Brain Sciences to develop and test a program to teach a second language to young children whose parents speak only one.

Next From the Novelist Junot Díaz? A Picture Book

By his own admission, the novelist Junot Díaz is an agonizingly slow writer and a chronic procrastinator. Over the past two-plus decades, he has published just three books: two short-story collections and his 2007 novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which won the Pulitzer Prize. He once spent about five years working on a 15-page story. But even by Mr. Díaz's glacial standards, his latest book, "Islandborn," is long overdue — about 20 years past deadline. And it's a mere 48 pages long.  "Islandborn" is a picture book — Mr. Díaz's first work of fiction for young readers. It grew out of a promise that he made to his goddaughters two decades ago, when they asked him to write a book that featured characters like them, Dominican girls living in the Bronx.

Trump Administration Abruptly Cuts Off Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding

The Trump administration has cut off grants that fund teen pregnancy prevention programs and research their effectiveness, Reveal reports.  Leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services, who have publicly favored an abstinence-based approach to sex education, sent letters to recipients to inform them of their decision to end funding early on the five-year grants, which go to 81 organizations around the country, according to the reports. According to Reveal, programs that lost their funding include efforts to curb teen pregnancy on the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma, with Apache communities in Arizona, and among teens in foster care in Texas. Other impacted programs include counseling and STD testing initiatives in Chicago's Public Health Department and a USC workshop for parents of middle schoolers. The impact on research is significant as well: "Health officials say cutting off money midway through multi-year research projects is highly unusual and wasteful because it means there can be no scientifically valid findings. The researchers will not have the funds to analyze data they have spent the past two years collecting or incorporate their findings into assistance for teens and their families."

Raising a Truly Bilingual Child

The steps along the road toward bilingualism can help a child's overall facility with language. And early exposure to more than one language can confer certain advantages, especially in terms of facility with forming the sounds in that language. But parents should not assume that young children's natural language abilities will lead to true grown-up language skills without a good deal of effort. Erika Hoff, a developmental psychologist who is a professor at Florida Atlantic University and the lead author of a 2015 review article on bilingual development, said: "For everybody trying to raise a bilingual child, whatever your background and reason, it’s very important to realize that acquiring a language requires massive exposure to that language."

At First Denied U.S. Entry, Afghan Girls' Robotics Team Shows the World What They Can Do

An all-girls team from Afghanistan finally reached the U.S. to participate in a robotics competition. Their visas were denied twice by American officials until public pushback prompted President Trump to intervene. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza talks with some of the girls and Jeffrey Brown discusses how their story plays into wider immigration questions with Alan Gomez of USA Today.

Principals Fought Hard for Their Share of Federal Money. Now It Might Be Taken Away.

Organizations that represent the nation's school principals are blasting a House appropriation bill that eliminates about $2 billion in funds meant to support teachers and school leaders. In a joint statement, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American Federation of School Administrators, called the House decision to put forth a spending bill that would zero out the funding stream known as Title II, Part A "unconscionable." (Politics K-12 has the full run-down on the House bill.)