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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bilingual Babies Perceive the World Differently.


In an interconnected world, speaking more than one language is becoming increasingly common. Approximately one-fifth of Americans speak a non-English language at home, and globally, as many as two-thirds of children are brought up bilingual.
Research suggests that the growing numbers of bilingual speakers may have an advantage that goes beyond communication: It turns out that being bilingual is also good for your brain.
Judy and Paul Szentkiralyi both grew up bilingual in the U.S., speaking Hungarian with their families and English with their peers. When they first started dating, they spoke English with each other.
But they knew they wanted to raise their children speaking both languages, so when things turned serious they did something unusual — they decided to switch to Hungarian.
Today, Hungarian is the primary language the Szentkiralyis use at home. Their two daughters — Hannah, 14, and Julia, 8 — speak both languages fluently, and without any accent. But they both heard only Hungarian from mom and dad until the age of 3 or 4, when they started school.
"When she did go to preschool that accent was very thick – she counted like Vun, two, tree," said Judy Szentkiralyi, recalling Hanna's early experience with English. "And by the time four or five months went by, it was totally gone."
Dispelling Confusion Around Bilingualism
The Szentkiralyis say that most people were supportive, but not everyone. Paul recounts an uncomfortable confrontation Judy once had in the local grocery store.
"I remember one time you came home and you said this one lady was like, 'When is she going to learn English?' And it was like, 'Well, when she goes to school she'll learn English,'" he said.
For a bilingual who really has two good languages that they use, both of them are always active.
"People would often say, 'Well, won't they get confused?" added Judy. "And I would have to explain, 'Well, no, it wasn't confusing for us.'"
The idea that children exposed to two languages from birth become confused or that they fall behind monolingual children is a common misconception, says Janet Werker, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who studies language acquisition in bilingual babies.
"Growing up bilingual is just as natural as growing up monolingual," said Werker, whose own research indicates babies of bilingual mothers can distinguish between languages even hours after birth.
"There is absolutely no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to confusion, and there is no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to delay," she said.
Werker and other researchers say the evidence to the contrary is actually quite strong. Instead of holding you back, being bilingual, they say, may actually be good for you.
Tuning In To The Right Signal
Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist from York University in Toronto, says the reason lies in the way the bilingual mind uses language.
"We don't really know very much in psychology," said Bialystok. "But the one thing that has been so overwhelmingly proven, that I can say with great certainty, is this: For a bilingual who really has two good languages that they use, both of them are always active."
In other words, no matter what language a person is speaking at the moment, both languages are active in the brain.
"The evidence is very dramatic. Even if you are in a context that is utterly monolingual, where you think there is absolutely no reason to think about Chinese or Spanish or French, it is part of the activated network that's going on in your brain," she said.
This means that bilinguals have to do something that monolinguals don't do — they have to keep the two languages separate. Bialystok likens it to tuning into the right signal on the radio or television: The brain has to keep the two channels separate and pay attention to only one.
"The brain has a perfectly good system whose job it is to do just that — it's the executive control system. It focuses attention on what's important and ignores distraction. Therefore, for a bilingual, the executive control system is used in every sentence you utter. That's what makes it strong," said Bialystok.
Remodeling The Brain?
Constantly engaging this executive control function is a form of mental exercise, explains Bialystok, and some researchers, including herself, believe that this can be beneficial for the brain. Bilingual speakers have been shown to perform better on a variety of cognitive tasks, and one study Bialistok did found that dementia set in four to five years later in people who spent their lives speaking two languages instead of one.
"They can get a little extra mileage from these cognitive networks because they have been enhanced throughout life," said Bialystok.
And the advantages of bilingualism may be due to more than just "mental fitness." Bialystok says there's some preliminary evidence that being bilingual may physically remodel parts of the brain. It's something researchers are only beginning to look into, but she says there is reason to believe that speaking a second language may lead to important changes in brain structure as well.

Do Movie Trailers Offend or Shock You?


Coming attractions just keep coming and coming and coming

It's not your imagination. You are seeing more trailers when you go to the movies. The Hollywood Reporter notes that not only are you paying more to go to the movies, but you are seeing more paid advertisements as theater owners are being paid to show an increasing number of movie trailers. Meanwhile psychologist report that the trailers impact your mood and your perceptions in ways that could run counter to the intent of the filmmaker whose movie you are paying to see. In some cases trailers on films that meet your moral, ethical or emotional beliefs or state could offend and impact the views in ways the filmmakers and the studios did not intend. More at Hollywood Reporter.com

What is truth? Why do we fight and disagree? What makes Repubublicans and Democrats different, a Psychology study of group priorities

"Spotters" By Michael Toole

Spotters (2010) from Michael T. Toole on Vimeo.

Scan Down for the latest news, views and links...go back a few days as news remains posted.

Scan down on the right and left hand columns. Click on and read "older posts" as well.

Bureau of Reclamation "Green Building" Dedication


Please join us for a ribbon cutting and tour of the new Reclamation GREEN Building.  
September 8th
2:30pm  Exterior interpretive talks
3:00pm  Dedication and Speakers
3:30pm  Ribbon Cutting and Open House
1400 Fir Street, Boulder City

Clash of the Titans



Is the country in a Wagnerian battle for our very soul?

Conservatives and Liberals, swords unsheathed, shields at the ready and fire and brimstone ready to be released seem themselves in a battle for the future, sole and definition of who we are as a nation.

Neither, but more so the Conservatives, see themselves as part of a governing body of compromise, solutions and providing for the short as well as long term needs of America, Americans and the leadership of the Free World!

Cue the drums, symbols and cannon!

But no one is listening to the people, who say they want compromise, progress, jobs and to move past this bickering and forward as a country.

No to politicians, pundits and the big money, it is a battle to the death.

Not one for the reality of governance, which includes meeting the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters, providing for future generations and educating the next generation.

No, better to sound big, fight hard and be applauded by the countless multitudes you are convinced are behind you. And to focus on fear, terror, an "us vs. them" mentality and to personify your opposition rather than deal with the details and their actual price tags, in money and in human needs and suffering. Can you say "Obamacare", the personification of our entire medical infrastructure as the work of one "evil" dark figure.

Yes, issues of race, age, ethnicity, the language you speak and the job you are trained to do and good at are brought into question in this new opera for the future of our nation.

But no one seems to be willing to settle for a soft song, a series of compromising melodies that combine the multiple cultures, ideas, beliefs and solutions into one tapestry that has any chance of working in view of the titanic challenges ahead.

No one seems to be willing to leave the Clash of the Titans, the epic battles behind.

No, better to look good on TV, sound strong, stir up anger with short sound clips and invented "facts" then sit down and work things out in a way that just might work.

The world has their eyes on us now...and they are laughing.

September 11 Rememered



Fall of the World Trade Center

Fall of the World Trade Center
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 dealt a shocking blow to most Americans’ sense of security within their own borders. The attacks were almost universally condemned by people of every nation, and the main orchestrator, Osama bin Laden, became the subject of an intense manhunt that took nearly ten years to resolve. Since the attacks, nearly every aspect of the U.S. response, from airport security to the War on Terror, has been the subject of some level of controversy. On the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen members of the Islamic extremist group known as al-Qaeda boarded four different...View More

Spying on all of us, and we gave them permission!


They are watching you

The information/communication age has a dark side

To err is human, to forgive divine.

That very Christian sentiment is all but lost in today's society, where a Googlesearch, a Lexis-Nexis or any number of other computer searches will turn up information and in many cases “dirt” on your next door neighbor going back to their birth.

It’s no longer a question of the value of the information, or even the date.

We are use to and even seek out news about politicians, attacked with quotes or actions or political stands from months, years and even decades before. Any wrong step or old viewpoint can and will surface in damaging ways.

How many of us realize that when we apply for a job, a loan, a home or membership in a new organization, our background is data mined, and any information that they find can and legally must be taken into account in decisions about our future, our life.  They can be sued if they ignore information they have asked for, and therefore seen.

KNPR’s Talk of the Nation interviewed the author of “Delete”, a book about our data histories and information trail. In the course of the interview a woman called in who was denied employment because many years before she had posed for inappropriate photographs. A man found out his employer had a history of fraud and scams, so he quit his job.

What information should be kept and shared?

How can we keep or lives from being brutally public?

Add to this the reality that most home computing will in the near future be done on superfast machines in far away parts of the globe with only an interface at home or a portable divice, similar to an iPhone or laptop, and access to private information may become every day and easy for most everyone.

Today the most advanced access involves expensive paid subscriptions to services such as Nexis-Lexis or other highly intrusive search software and corporate services. But in the future access may be easy and perhaps free for everyone from any computer or interface divice.

Fair and Balanced.


Media bias



What happened to non-bias media?
 
Full disclosure, I am a trained journalist and worked full time as one in the 1970's and early 1980's.
 
Fox news is the primary media arm for stirring up and "reporting" on the Tea Party Movement, frequntly saying it represents the "majority" and "overwhelming majority" of Ameria, despite polls that show thatbetween members and those that believe in it (but still consider themselves outside the movement) at between ten and thirty percent. Fifty percent is a majority, for the record. Fox reports thousands at rallys where official counts are in the hundreds. Fox does not report on financing for the movement or on how varied and scattered the beliefs of those who attend rallies are.

CNBC reports on finances, like the role of Freedom Works and Fox in building and financing the movement, but not on the valid points made or the true furvor and those behind the movement (which never was grassroots).

CNN has talking heads talking out of both sides of their mouths while smiling and reporting in what independant surveys now show to be an Obama advantage they did not have prior to the 2008 campaign.

Rupert Murdock, owner of Skynews which in turn owns Fox, purchased the Wall Street Journal, which now slants its coverage and strongly bias its editorials to the right of even Fox News.

To gain subscriptions, quarter hours, viewers, listeners, readers and advertising revenue, much of the media is not bias. But it is not a liberal bias. Independent surveys show the bias has shifted strongly to the right, with the phrase "liberal bias of the media" a catch phrase to attack and burn any media that dares to be balanced of report the opposite side. Language, coverage and priorities have been, since last fall, strongly bias in favor of the Tea Party Movement, Republicans in Congress and conservative causes, according to independent studies by both the Pew Media Trust and Gallop organizations.

Yet the popular phrase is "liberal media" as Fox now dominates cable news and its views believe it to be "fair and balanced" and all other media "liberal."

So what happened to the Fourth Estate, balanced journalism and the peoples' right to know?

Have corporate interest, a capitalism advertising based media and those who sell hatred and slogans overtaken reason and research and finding middle ground?

I am interested in your feedback.

Speaking in Public



A.     Objectives
1.     Understand the value of a course in public speaking and applications in students life of the communication model
2.     Understand the long tradition of communication studies
3.     Identify the major similarities and differences between public speaking and everyday conversation (interpersonal communication)
4.     Understand that nervousness is normal, and even desirable
5.     Investigate methods of using or controlling nerves, making it work for you as a speaker
6.     Understand the elements of the communication process and how to use them in everyday life
7.     Understand to adapt to and grow stronger from cultural diversity
8.     Understand ethnocentrism, when to use it and how to avoid it


B.     Public Speaking is vital
1.     Spreading, using and resolving ideas, influence and knowledge
2.     Public speaking touches everyone and every aspect of life
a.     Helps gain success in every aspect of life
b.     Vital as a means of civic engagement
c.      Can be a form of empowerment
d.   Influences and can even control opinion and actions
e.   Helps advancement at work, in religious and other communities
f.   Builds your own credibility (Ethos).
C.     Power
1.     Career advancement, understanding communication is a key resource
2.     Career advancement, being able to speak to groups is a key asset.
3.     Understanding and using Communication will lead to improvement in:
a.     Grades, Academics
b.     Success (Money and otherwise)
c.      Understanding others and the world around you
d.     Marketing and being marketed or sold to
e.     Civic Responsibility (more later)
4.     Skills
a.     Organizing thoughts
b.     Tailoring message to the audience
c.      Response to and adapting to feedback
d.     Seeking Maximum Impact
5.     Differences from one on one interpersonal communication
a.     Public Speaking is structured
b.     Public Speaking requires more formal language
1.     Appropriate to audience
2.     Best to communicate complete concepts and ideas
3.     You are being judged by listeners
4.     Your ethos is directly involved in communication (more later)

RIP Bob Sheppard, New York Yankees


Bob Sheppard, who became the Yankees’ public-address announcer about the time Methuselah was trying out at third base, proved to be pretty good at political forecasting.
During a phone conversation with me from Florida in February 2005, he mentioned a certain “young fellow” in national politics. The name eluded him but, Mr. Sheppard said, “he struck me as someone who is going to be heard from again and again and again.” That young fellow was a new United States senator from Illinois, still wet behind the ears, someone named Barack Obama.



http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/nyregion/13nyc.html?ref=publicspeaking