|Above copied from Huffington Post|
|Above copied from Test and Score Data Summary for TOEFL iBT Tests|
|Above copied from Huffington Post|
|Above copied from Test and Score Data Summary for TOEFL iBT Tests|
|To read the above story, visit NPR|
|Members and leaders of Alliance of Concerned Teachers trooped to Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) Head Office, wearing masks of Jose Rizal and a woven tray of fresh fish to symbolize their aghast over their decision to make Filipino optional in college education. (ACT Phils)|
|News article from GMA News Online|
|Reading and Early Childhood Learning|
|Sénéchal, M. and LeFevre, J.-A. (2014), Continuity and Change in the Home Literacy Environment as Predictors of Growth in Vocabulary and Reading. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12222|
"In sum, we found evidence of long-term associations between parent home literacy practices and child reading and vocabulary. First, parent reports of teaching and parent expectations about reading in kindergarten were a robust predictor of growth in child early literacy from kindergarten to the beginning of Grade 1. Second, parent reports of teaching and listening to their child read was also a solid predictor of growth in word reading from the beginning until the end of Grade 1. Third, most parents who increased the reported amount of teaching from Grade 1 to Grade 2 had children whose reading was below average in Grade 1, whereas most parents who decreased their teaching had children whose reading was above average. Finally, parent reports of shared reading in kindergarten predicted growth in child vocabulary from kindergarten to Grade 1. Taken together, the present findings provided strong support for the key prediction of the Home Literacy Model, namely, that formal and informal literacy practices have different links to the development of children's oral and written language skills. The findings extend the model by showing that most parents adjust their formal literacy practices according to the reading performance of their child."The authors do note that about half of the parents of the children included in this study are well educated (college level). Still, the study shows that parents can help teach children beyond kindergarten.
|Above capture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Singapore|
|"My view: We should become tri-lingual as a country.Learn English well and connect to the World.|
Learn Filipino well and connect to our country.
Retain your dialect and connect to your heritage."
-Philippine president Benigno Aquino III
|Captured from PBS video |
"Should Spanish-Speaking Students Be Taught in English Only?"
Clearly, a very important take-home message from these studies is the defining role of early childhood care in a person's development. What happens or does not happen in the early years greatly influences life in adulthood. What experiences shape the brain in its early years can affect learning in the later years. These seem to be clear points.
- Brains are built over time, from the bottom up.
- The interactive influences of genes and experience shape the developing brain.
- The brain’s capacity for change decreases with age.
- Cognitive, emotional, and social capacities are inextricably intertwined throughout the life course.
- Toxic stress damages developing brain architecture, which can lead to life-long problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.
The brain is most flexible, or “plastic,” early in life to accommodate a wide range of environments and interactions, but as the maturing brain becomes more specialized to assume more complex functions, it is less capable of reorganizing and adapting to new or unexpected challenges. For example, by the first year, the parts of the brain that differentiate sound are becoming specialized to the language the baby has been exposed to; at the same time, the brain is already starting to lose the ability to recognize different sounds found in other languages. Although the “windows” for language learning and other skills remain open, these brain circuits become increasingly difficult to alter over time. Early plasticity means it’s easier and more effective to influence a baby’s developing brain architecture than to rewire parts of its circuitry in the adult years.Language learning is a major issue faced by basic education. There is one camp out there that advocates as far as suggesting that mother-tongue based instruction is more effective. The implication from the neuroscience studies is that language learning occurs at an early age. The breadth and robustness of the brain architecture formed during early childhood depends on a child's exposure to a language. Clearly, this does not depend on what language an infant is first exposed to. What matters is the richness and depth, the vocabulary and precision. The two countries, Finland and Singapore, offer two seemingly opposing options. In Finland, the mother tongue is used as medium of instruction while Singapore teaches primarily in English. What these two countries probably have in common is a childhood marked with rich conversations between infants or toddlers with their parents or caregivers. It is amazing that difficulty in English language learning across the globe is often associated with socio-economic background as well as educational attainment of parents. These are factors that are likewise expected to correlate quite strongly with the type and level of the language used at home. It does not really matter what language is used. If conversations are limited to "No", "Stop it", the vocabulary of a child entering school is poor. More importantly, as neuroscience suggests, the network connections are more likely not optimized for learning. In these cases, even if a child's mother tongue is English, the child may still be challenged in education. As well controlled studies have shown, it is not the medium of instruction but the quality of instruction that matters most. Mother tongue instruction equally fails if conversations in the early years are void of richness and depth in that language. It is perhaps one of the reasons why even children from English-speaking homes, but with parents less inclined to talk intelligently with their children, find themselves performing at the same level as children who are raised in homes with a different language, but also with parents less likely to engage their children in intelligent conversations.
In a bilingual context, the mother tongue plays a key role in a child's social and personal development, in education and in second-language learning. There is a complex relationship between these three areas. Support for children receiving education through a second language is often in the form of additional learning opportunities in the second language. However, first-language competence has been shown to affect learning in the second language. This paper looks at pre-school migrant children in a bilingual context and investigates the nature of the children's bilingualism. Findings show that they do not have the same level of mother-tongue competence as children brought up in their country of origin. The paper goes on to consider the reasons for these differences in mother-tongue competence and possible responses. The paper concludes that for these children, nursery education in the mother tongue could raise levels of competence in the second language and increase wider educational opportunities, as well as contributing to mutual respect, social cohesion and harmony. There is a complex relationship between mother-tongue development, children's self-esteem, educational opportunities and second-language learning. This paper considers how this complex relationship affects groups of children in four European contexts: Turkey, Norway, Germany and Austria.
The learning of a second language is highly dependent on the effectiveness with which a child learned his/her mother tongue. Children with high grammar and vocabulary levels in their mother tongues have reportedly found it easier to learn a new language within the school setting and consequently, read and wrote more fluently and earlier. Therefore, the higher the mother-tongue competence, the greater readiness for reading in either the first or second languages (Yazici, Ilter & Glover, 2010).Neuroscience research is telling us when it is optimum to achieve competence in mother tongue. It is in the early years (not in the elementary years). The following paragraph by Patricia K. Kuhl in "Early Language Learning and Literacy: Neuroscience Implications for Education" highlights data from neuroscience studies and their implications of early childhood learning:
These results are theoretically interesting and also highly relevant to early learning practice. These data show that the initial steps that infants take toward language learning are important to their development of language and literacy years later. Our data suggest as well that these early differences in performance are strongly related to experience. Our studies reveal that these early measures of speech discrimination, which predict future language and literacy, are strongly correlated to experience with “motherese” early in development (Liu, Kuhl, and Tsao, 2003). Motherese exaggerates the critical acoustic cues in speech (Kuhl et al., 1997; Werker et al., 2007), and infants’ social interest in speech is, we believe, important to the social learning process. Thus, talking to children early in life, reading to them early in life, and interacting socially with children around language and literacy activities creates the milieu in which plasticity during the critical period can be maximized for all children.Advocates of mother tongue-based multilingual education perhaps need to pay attention to what they are in fact facing. The real problem may actually lie in the early years - before kindergarten. A child who does not get exposed to language and literacy activities even in the mother tongue during the early years is already at a disadvantage before school starts. The solution may not lie in the elementary years. Returning to the Harvard study, it concludes:
The basic principles of neuroscience indicate that early preventive intervention will be more efficient and produce more favorable outcomes than remediation later in life.
"...Getting education through English involves differential curricular pressure and cognitive demands on the part of the students. The student has to understand the instructions presented in English which is not his mother tongue, to develop linguistic competence in it and simultaneously master the course content. For Odia medium children the task is much simpler as they have to master the course content only using a language already acquired earlier at home. However, this tougher task demand at an early age helps in faster development of cognitive processes in the children being educated through English medium...."This year, a recent paper has been published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology that examines the effect of bilingualism on working memory. The article, "Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children", has the following abstract:
Two studies are reported comparing the performance of monolingual and bilingual children on tasks requiring different levels of working memory. In the first study, 56 5-year-olds performed a Simon-type task that manipulated working memory demands by comparing conditions based on two rules and four rules and manipulated conflict resolution demands by comparing conditions that included conflict with those that did not. Bilingual children responded faster than monolinguals on all conditions and bilinguals were more accurate than monolinguals in responding to incongruent trials, confirming an advantage in aspects of executive functioning. In the second study, 125 children 5- or 7-year-olds performed a visuospatial span task that manipulated other executive function components through simultaneous or sequential presentation of items. Bilinguals outperformed monolinguals overall, but again there were larger language group effects in conditions that included more demanding executive function requirements. Together, the studies show an advantage for bilingual children in working memory that is especially evident when the task contains additional executive function demands.The children included in these studies have been carefully chosen so that the grouping between bilinguals and monolinguals does represent the only major difference between the students. Parents in both groups all have college education and the students all live in a somewhat homogeneous middle class neighborhood. In terms of English vocabulary, the monolingual children (those who speak English in both home and school) perform better. On "Pictures Task", an exercise that measures working memory and speed, bilinguals are significantly faster than the monolinguals although both groups have similar accuracy. A second study described in this paper makes use of a test similar to a Corsi block task:
|An example of a Corsi block task|
Downloaded from Gebhard Sammer, "Working memory load and EEG-dynamics as revealed by point correlation dimension analysis"
"The current studies fill an important gap in our understanding of the bilingual mind. Working memory is crucial to cognitive development, and its precocious development by bilingual children is important evidence for developmental effects of experience. The results also contribute to the growing literature on the effect of experience on cognitive outcomes. In this regard, bilingualism is particularly important because, unlike experiences such as musical training and video game playing, bilingual children are not typically preselected for talent or interest. The children in the current studies were bilingual because of a family history of immigration and not because of a talent for learning languages. This is powerful evidence for the role of experience in shaping the mind and directing the course of development."
|Math in Focus explains the role of the medium of instruction in Singapore Math|
Downloaded from http://www.hmheducation.com/singaporemath/ell.php
|Grade/ Subject||Singapore (%)||International Average (%)|
"...64 per cent and 66 per cent of Malaysia’s secondary students who had participated in the TIMSS study scored “Low” and “Below Low” in mathematics and science respectively...."
"The differences in their achievements highlight an important matter – the inaccuracy of the accusation that English as the medium of instruction in mathematics is the cause of the pupils’ less than ideal achievements in the said subject. This is because both groups of pupils were weak in content knowledge as evidenced by their low mean scores in both tests. Noteworthy as well was the fact that learners from the rural area were not significantly handicapped by the said language in their mathematics achievements. As for the urban pupils, while it was shown that they were slightly advantaged by the use of Bahasa Malaysia’s accommodation, the bulk of their inaccurate answers seem to originate from errors in content-knowledge. To reiterate a point made earlier, the pupils’ lower scores in the English Test should not summarily be assigned to the use of the English language as the medium of instruction alone. It is important to acknowledge that mathematical acumen also has a role to play in determining the pupils’ achievements in the said subject."
Now, these initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, housing, all these things will help entrepreneurs and small-business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs. And that has to start at the earliest possible age. You know, study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So, tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. That’s something we should be able to do.Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on, by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children -- like Georgia or Oklahoma -- studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.
"...Using market research data, we selected the four most commonly used core reading curricula in kindergarten classrooms. Together, these four programs accounted for 52.3% of the market penetration in 2009–2010: Houghton Mifflin Reading (Houghton Mifflin, 2008) (18.3% market penetration), Scott Foresman Reading Street (Pearson Education, 2008) (13.7%), Harcourt Trophies (Harcourt, 2007) (10.8%), and Treasures (Macmillan/McGraw Hill, 2009) (9.5%). Because our goal was to understand curricular supports for vocabulary instruction, each curriculum was assigned a letter name to maintain its anonymity...."These curricula were evaluated in terms of weekly scope and sequence, word selection and difficulty, frequency of instructional practice, review and progress monitoring, and instructional structure. With the first criterion, scope, as measured by the number of target vocabulary words per week, the four curricula were found to vary widely. One curriculum averages 21 words per week, a second one does 14 per week, while the other two average 3 words or less per week. Noting that children whose parents are professionals already have 1,100 words in their vocabulary by the age of 4, while those in welfare only know 500. The rate of 3 words per week leads to only 150 words per year. Clearly, to close the gap, at least a dozen target vocabulary words per week must be covered. Two of the four most popular kindergarten reading curricula do not meet this need.
|Downloaded from http://www.jamespaulgee.com/sites/default/files/pub/TeachingSciencetoELL-Ch07.pdf|
|These photos were downloaded from ACT's Facebook page|
|The above figure, screen captured from|
...There is no reading in grade one. What will happen to our pupils when they go to grade 2. All they could do right now is to express their ideas by speaking and singing. Is this not the same as kindergarten? Formal lessons in reading start only in grade 2.. I really do not know where this new DepEd K to 12 curriculum will lead us. As they say, it is already here so we might as well embrace and do everything we can....
"I would start simply - just select at least two classes on the first year, assign about equal students in each class at random, and use the method to be tested on one class and the conventional on the other. Use standardized tests before, during and after the school year. Analyze with a paired t-test. All other variables beside the method of instruction should be the same, hence the analysis is only for the effect of the two instructional methods. You can continue this for years...."Browsing through journals, I found an example. And coincidentally, the first author of the published study is also from Johns Hopkins (different person, though). The paper's first author is Robert E. Slavin. Slavin also writes for the Huffington Post so one could find the following on the Post's website:
Robert Slavin is Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Director of the Institute for Effective Education at the University of York (UK), and the co-founder and Chairman of the Success for All Foundation. He is an expert on research-based school improvement, reading instruction, English-language learners, and federal education reform policy. Slavin has authored or co-authored more than 300 articles and 24 books. He received the Distinguished Services Award from the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2000, the AERA Review of Research Award in 2009, the Palmer O. Johnson Award for the best article in an AERA journal in 2008, and was appointed as a Member of the National Academy of Education in 2009 and an AERA Fellow in 2010.Slavin is one of the world's experts on education research. The paper I came across is from the following journal:
"...Yet in this study, fourth graders who had been taught to read in Spanish from kindergarten to second grade scored nonsignificantly better than those taught only in English on measures of Spanish language and reading."This is quite similar to non-Tagalog school children in the Philippines doing as well or even better in the Filipino section (which is mostly Tagalog) of the National Achievement Test.
The findings of the present study reinforce the frequently stated conclusion that what matters most in the education ... is the quality of instruction, not the language of instruction... Schools may choose to teach ... in either their native language or English for many reasons, including cultural, economic, or political rationales. Yet the data from this experiment do not support the claims that this choice is crucial for ultimate learning of English or Spanish reading.