Benefits of Spanish-English Bilingual Education for Children

Proclamation Ceremony

In lieu of the United States’s Hispanic Heritage Month and the cutback of many dual-language programs in Florida, California, and Texas, VOXXI, independent journal for Hispanic America, explored the affects of bilingual education on children. 

Nate Cornish, the Director of Clinical Services for Bilingual Therapies, supports the application of bilingual education and said to VOXXI, “we’re finding from an educator’s perspective, kids who are in more of immersion type bilingual programs tend to catch up to their English speaking peers, and at the same time they seem to have greater access to the curriculum because they’re receiving instruction in their native language while they’re learning English.”

Cornish’s studies also revealed that bilingual education promotes a sense of pride and positive self-image in students as Spanish speakers. Additionally, dual-language education supports family life by encouraging and maintaining the native language. Cornish explained “I’ve had tearful conversations with parents who are saying, ‘I’m losing my ability to communicate with my child, what do I do?’ That’s kind of a hard thing to address. There are a lot of social pressures involved in that none of us can really control.”

Sarah Roseberry Lytle, Translation, Outreach, and Education Director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, said bilingual-focused curriculum increases brain activity and flexibility as related to memory and symbolic reasoning. “Solving math problems is a great example of one way to employ your flexibility thinking skills because you have to think about different ways you might solve a problem, in the same way if you’re growing up in a bilingual household you need to think of different words. If you can’t activate a word in one language, you need to think of a different way to describe the word,” explained Lytle.

According to international school YCIS, bilingual students also have a deeper understanding of linguistics, tend to think be creative thinkers and problem solvers, and “academically outperform and score statistically higher on standardized college entrance exams than those who only speak one language.” Consequently,YCIS asserts that bilingual education provides the potential for students to become bi-cultural members of a globalizing world. 

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Myanmar Partners With U.S. to Rebuild Universities

In what marks the largest U.S. higher education delegation in Myanmar, representatives from nine U.S. universities traveled to the country to develop deeper academic ties and examine potential exchange opportunities. Run by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) seeks to help rebuild Myanmar’s  higher education capacity.

Meeting with the speaker of the Upper House, U Khin Aung MyintParticipating U.S. institutions include: American University, Arizona State University, Ball State University, Hawaii Pacific University,  Northern Arizona University, Northern Illinois University, Rutgers University, Samford University, the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, and the University of Washington.

The delegation met with the heads of several government agencies, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science & Technology, and Ministry of Health. They visited universities and organizations, engaging in academic discussions and giving lectures and workshops to hundreds of Myanmar’s faculty and staff members.

Following the visit, the delegation announced several concrete commitments:

- Arizona State, Rutgers, and Northern Illinois University will host Myanmar librarians for up to a month in order to encourage development of academic libraries at local Myanmar universities.

- Samford University agrees to sponsor  one of their technology specialists to come to the Myanmar Institute of Theology and upgrade their technological capacity.

- American University plans to offer several two-year long fellowships, permitting Myanmar students to complete an online Master’s Degree in International Affairs with a focus on Comparative and International Disability Policy (CIDP) in the ASEAN region. Students will conduct most of their work online before spending a two-week residency in Bangkok.

- Northern Arizona University will host one English teaching faculty member of a local Myanmar university for up to one month to provide teaching mentor-ship and introduce their English language program and curriculum design.

In a few months, the IIE will issue a report based on the observation and analysis of the current development needs of higher education in Myanmar. Formulated recommendations will facilitate the use of academic partnerships and exchanges.

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Open Access to Books for Arabic Science Education

Arabic Books

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced, as one of her last acts in office, a new project that may change the way Arabic speaking teachers and students access information.

The Open Book Project (OBP) was launched last month during a ceremony held at the State Department, where representatives of arabic countries, such as Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Syria, were present.

The project, which is a result of a joint effort between the US State Department and the Arab League Education, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALESCO), aims “to expand access to free quality open education materials in Arabic with a focus on science and technology.” Several High Education American Institutions are working to translate american textbooks into arabic. Those will then be available through the OBP website, so that anyone can “read, download and print these materials for free or adapt a copy that meets the local needs of their classrooms or education systems.” The project is also intended to help Arab professors and intellectuals create their own open courses.

Through this project, Clinton hopes to “build friendships and partnerships, and deliver the benefits of open education to more people and more places,” and do away with “lower economic, geographical, and even gender based barriers to learning”.



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Taiwan’s Brain Drain

students and busThe Taiwanese Ministry of Education arrived in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley last week to hold its Taiwanese education fair in the United States.  The education fair featured recruiters from Taiwan’s top universities who spoke to interested American students and parents who want their children to prospectively study in Taiwan.  The Los Angeles Times reported that over a thousand people attended.  The fair was based at the Chinese Cultural Center in the city of El Monte, a Southern California ethnic enclave of over 20,000 people of Asian descent.

Taiwan’s minister of education, Wei-Ling Chiang, who was present at the education fair, spoke of Taiwan’s current social exigency–the brain drain.  Chiang pointed out that there are 3,651 American-born students who are currently studying in Taiwanese universities, while 24,000 Taiwanese students are enrolled in American universities.  This imbalance in enrollment has caused Taiwan’s young talent to leave the country and to stay in places such as the United States and for long-term jobs.  This outflow of talent is detrimental for Taiwan, as the current demands of the workforce and development calls for evermore aspirant and talented individuals who can contribute their knowledge and skills to their home country rise.

In his welcome speech at the education fair in El Monte, Mr. Chiang made a compelling argument to parents for choosing Taiwan’s universities as a prospective degree program for their children.  The average education costs for an undergraduate is about $3,000 per year, which is the standard tuition set by the Taiwanese government.  The cost of living is likewise far less than the United States.  The target audience for increased enrollment is the average Taiwanese-American teenager, who is the second or third generation in the United States.  The appeal of a Taiwanese education is timely as the freezing enrollment and tuition increases in the University of California and California State University systems are pushing for parents to reconsider the value of an American education.

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A Diamond Planet: A Discovery that May Change the Way We See Planets

55 Cancri A recent study conducted by a team of investigators from Yale University in the US and from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in France suggests the existence of a planet in the Milky Way made mostly out of carbon.

The planet, known as 55 Cancri e, has twice the Earth’s size and eight times its mass. It is located 40 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Cancer. It is one of the five planets orbiting the star 55 Cancri, which is visible to the naked eye from our planet.

The planet has a hyperspeed orbit, only 18 hours, and a temperature of 2,150 degrees Celsius (13,900 degrees Fahrenheit).

The scientists conducting the investigation believe the planet has a unique constitution, very different from the Earth’s. They believe the planet is made mostly by iron, silicon carbide, carbon, and other silicates. They estimate that with such an amount of carbon in the planet, at least one-third of its mass could be diamond (one of the forms of stable carbon)

This discovery may change the way astrophysicists understand planetary systems and their evolution. According to the lead author of the research, Nikku Madhusudhan, “This is the first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth’s,” and this means that the distant rocky planets can no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents and atmospheres similar to Earth’s. A carbon-rich composition could also influence the planet’s thermal evolution and plate tectonics with several implications to its eventual life forms.

The study has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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WISE Awards: Six Innovative Projects in Education

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) awarded six projects from around the world for their innovative and diverse approach to issues challenging global education. Selected from a group of 24 finalists (and 1,600 applicants), the six winners received a $20,000 prize each in addition to worldwide visibility.

And the winners are (drum roll, please):

Solar-Powered, Floating Schools (Bangladesh) ensure year-round education to students from flood-prone areas. Boats serve as both classrooms and school buses, taking students to and from school. Classrooms contain a shared laptop, mobile library, and solar-powered lanterns for night class. The initiative inspired solar water farming practices, stimulating economic growth and children’s nutritional health. The program won an additional award for “best innovative financing of primary education.”

Cristo Rey Network Corporate Work Study Program (United States) provides quality preparatory education to low-income students from 25 high schools. Students work to pay for their tuition fees while receiving hands-on training at entry-level positions. The program produced $37 million in revenue in the 2011-2012 academic year.

RoboBraille (Denmark) is a free web-based device that converts educational materials into formats such as Braille, mp3 files, audio books, e-books, and visual Braille. It presently benefits over 10,000 blind and other special needs students.

Satya Bharti School Program (India) delivers high-quality, holistic education to underprivileged children in rural India. It influences positive community organization and provides local income support through school-based job opportunities. Currently, 37,000 children (62,000 since 2006) are supported in 750 host villages.

PSU Educarchile (Chile) is the first online high school program to prepare students for the mandatory University Admission Test.  It provides free educational materials, mobile podcasts, and collaborative software to low-income students. The program now reaches 1,200,000 students per year.

Children Play with Garbage in Cambodia Slum

Cambodian Children’s Fund – Generational Change through Education (Cambodia) is a community-based program for the thousands of children who were forced to live and work in the garbage dump at Steung Meanchey. Students now have access to English language classes and computer training, as well as community medical support and care. In 2011, the program recorded 100% pass rates, 97% retention, and a less than 1% daily absentee rate for 635 children enrolled full-time.

The WISE Awards winners will take part in the annual WISE Summit from November 13-15 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar.

For more information about the WISE Awards, please visit

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US-Brunei Program to Unite Asean’s Tower of Babel?


School is in session for teacher trainers and government officials. Some 70 representatives from each of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries begin a series of 11-week English language courses this month as part of the US-Brunei English Language Enrichment Project. The $25 million Brunei investment consists of a five-year strategy to bring together the various ASEAN states with English as the unifying language.

The first seven courses will be held at The University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD).  Here, the focus will be on teacher-training skills such as communication and educational training methods. The East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, will host the four remaining courses in culture and information technology.

While ASEAN members chose English as the operational language back in 2009, China may not be ready to accept its “non-speaking” role in the regional alliance just yet. It wasn’t long ago that China offered the Thailand government its own version of a linguistic crash course, proposing to send 1,000 Chinese teachers to Thailand and 1,000 Thai students to China – no strings attached.

In any event, ASEAN members appear unimpressed by China’s recent courting attempts. Last week, Vietnam revamped its 10-year English language program in the wake of a new $730 million investment in their National Target Program.  Thailand is embarking on its own English Speaking Year Project, designed to improve the conversational skills of some 14 million students.

Like many of ASEAN’s educational enterprises, the US-Brunei Project is certainly ambitious. The program will count on information technology sources to influence major changes in the near future. Currently brewing are plans for a regional forum that integrates ASEAN learning materials. Another is an online educational tool for teacher trainers.

As of now,  qualified American and Bruneian English teachers are being recruited to work at higher education institutions in several ASEAN countries.

So, we’re just getting started. Building a sound infrastructure takes time. Still, this “tower” may just serve as the prelude to more sustainable educational resources over time.

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International Student Identity Card Partnering with MasterCard for a Revamp

ISIC tuning

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC), the only globally recognized student identification and discount card, is now also an international prepaid debit card, courtesy of MasterCard.

Why this card? It provides a safe, easy, and widely-accepted way of purchasing necessities abroad. Like any good debit card, the ISIC offers fraud protection and online monitoring with the added perk of the universally-recognized MasterCard name (the ISIC is accepted anywhere MasterCard is accepted). The ISIC even offers text message alerts.

The card itself costs US $25 and doesn’t need to be connected to a bank account. Since 2009, the US is the 11th country in the world to adopt this version of the ISIC. Other countries include Argentina, Russia, and Hong Kong. ISIC says more countries are hopping on the bandwagon. In the US alone, over 250,000 students are expected to purchase the card this year.

As for the old-school, just-ID version, it’s held by about 4.5 millions students in 124 countries.

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