Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Affirmative Action for Men?

Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers created a controversy not too long ago when he stated that women are not as good as men at science and math. In China, men are not as good as women at learning languages. To balance the enrollments Chinese universities are accepting men with slightly lower scores. Officials explained that they are giving some preferential treatment to male students, but it is limited to classes of "less-popular languages and special situations." About 80% of the students at Chinas prestigious Foreign Language School at Peking University are women. The preferential treatment of men would lower women’s enrollment to 70%. gender discrimination? Laws suits would not be uncommon in other countries but in China….

Friday, August 26, 2005

Is Bush Anti-Bilingualism?

George Bush made language history when he ran for president in 2000 by sprinkling his speeches with Spanish phrases (Free registration). Although he admitted he does not speak Spanish very well, he got a lot of mileage from his limited linguistic skills. During the campaign Bush never maligned bilingual education and Texas, unlike California, Arizona, and Massachusetts, has not eliminated bilingual education. Now, however, it seems Bush is joining the English-only bandwagon. His administration is not going to publish a report it commissioned on bilingual education. The reason? It appears the findings support bilingual education. The study was commissioned in May of 2002 and was charged to take a hard look at the exiting research on bilingual education. Russ Whitehurst, assistant secretary for Education Research and Improvement, stated at the time that the No Child Left Behind education reform law "puts a strong emphasis on using education practices and programs based on sound, scientifically-based research." The findings apparently contradict the administration proposal and Whitehurst sent back the manuscript to the authors to find their own publisher.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bilingual Iraq

A draft of the Iraqi constitution (Article 4) states that Arabic and Kurdistan are the two official languages for Iraq. Iraqis are guaranteed the right to educate their children in their mother tongues, such as Turkomen or Assyrian, in government educational institutions, or any other language in private educational institutions, according to educational regulations.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Less French and German Fluency

Studying French and German is becoming less popular with British teen-agers. However, the total number of students taking A level in foreign languages went up. The decrease in French and German was offset by increases in Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and Russian.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

New Book

My new book is coming out September 16, 2005. Here is a preview.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Famine in Niger


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Tongue-Tied Scots?

Scotland is experiencing a serious shortage of university students in modern languages because not enough of them are signing up to train in the subject. The deadline for admission is almost at the door and so far less than two-thirds of the places at the country's teacher training colleges have been filled. Ian Smith, dean of the faculty of education at Strathclyde University said that they were hoping to recruit 60 modern language students, but so far only 28 materialized. One of the problems for language teachers in Scotland is that many schools need graduates who can teach not one but two foreign languages. And those candidates are difficult to find.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bilingual Voting?

In 1965 Congress passed The Voting Rights Act which says bilingual ballots may need to be provided. If more than 5% or 10,000 voting-age citizens in a county don’t speak English "very well," according the US Census figures, and are fluent in another language, election materials need to be translated. Forty years later the language rights are still not protected. The city of Boston is being sued for allegedly violating the voting rights of limited-English speaking citizens. The US Department of Justice is suing the city because of complaints experienced by immigrant citizens. Bringing the suit forward was a challenge because the Chinese immigrant citizens were concerned about being identified fearing retaliation. Yet, the US Department of Justice was able to assure that no one would suffer for coming forward and testifying.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Importing Bilingual Teachers from Mexico

Given the serious shortage of bilingual teachers in Texas, school administrators are bringing in Mexican national to fill teaching positions.