The limits of my language are the limits of my world. Ludwig Wittgenstein
The benefits of bilingualism are manifold. Recent research into brain plasticity and functioning are revealing more and more advantages to learning a second (and third) language. From improved cognitive ability and higher test results across all subjects, to behavioral improvements and increased tolerance and empathy, the list goes on and on. Hey – being bilingual even wards off dementia, helps prevent Alzheimers and delays brain atrophy by about 7 years!
With all these benefits, why do our South African school students (and their parents) complain so much about their requisite First Additional Language? Shouldn’t the inclusion of a compulsory second language in our school curriculum be applauded and encouraged? All the studies on bilingualism concur that it makes no difference what language is being acquired; the benefits remain the same. Continue reading First Additional Language for the Win!
“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Jerry Seinfeld
Having always been one of the freakish minority who actually enjoy speaking in public, I have often wondered why people allow themselves to continue through life with this very real phobia, without doing something about it. I mean, we all have to do it at some point; may as well learn how to enjoy it, right? Continue reading Glossophobia: fear of public speaking
Yesterday South Africa “celebrated” Human Rights Day. I use the quotation marks as March 21st marks the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre; hardly something worth celebrating. I guess we should celebrate the country we have now; our freedom, our constitution, our democracy … or perhaps the promise of how great a country we COULD have.
Continue reading Unlearning Intolerance
Years ago, when I still owned my educational theatre company – Hooked on Books – I included a poem by Jack Prelutsky in the Senior Primary show. I had my actors sing the poem, with accompanying choreography, to the tune of George Michael’s Faith (which will give you a clearer indication of how many years ago I’m talking about 😉 )
Go on, sing it (you’ll need to extend some words and add in a few “oh-ohs” to make it scan – but you can do it): Continue reading Homework! Oh, Homework!
When I was living and teaching in California, in the early 2000’s, I was lucky enough to attend some wonderful teaching conferences and seminars. A particularly inspirational speaker (whose name I wish I’d written down, or committed to memory) said something that made a huge impression on me:
“Never deny a student their right to fail.”
Continue reading Failing to let them fail
If I had to narrow down the one thing that I’m best at, it would probably be the ability to spot potential and talent in people. Running my own education theatre company years ago, I managed to nab the “pick of the litter” each year. Now our TV screens, stages and award ceremonies are littered with stars who landed their first acting jobs with me, back in the day.
When I was teaching in schools, I managed to spot talent in my students, too. Continue reading Spotting Talent
Learning is all about making connections. A vast, but relatively simple system of neurons, axons and synapses, in our brains, is constantly changing as we are exposed to new stimuli.Sensory stimulation strengthens these connections, whilst synapses that are seldom used end up in the recycle bin and are eventually eliminated altogether. Simplistically, this is how we learn and also how we forget. And it all starts with “me” …
Continue reading Learning Starts with “Me”