When researchers at the University of Washington found that even babies whose parents are monolingual could rapidly learn a second language in a small classroom environment, a new challenge was born:
How could they expand their program?
Answer - UW - Team - Software - Language
One answer, the UW team found, was to create software that would train language tutors online -- allowing the researchers' curriculum and method to be replicated anywhere in the world.
A new study by UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, or I-LABS, part of researchers' ongoing work with infant education centers in Spain, not only found that bilingual teaching led to sustained English-language comprehension and vocabulary-building, but also that the method could be scaled up to serve more, and more economically diverse, children.
Method - Language - Skills - Infants - Language
"We knew our research-based method worked to boost second language skills rapidly in infants, without negatively affecting their first language, but the question was, how can we train people worldwide to use it? Here, we show that online training works," said Naja Ferjan Ramírez, the lead author of both studies who is a new assistant professor of linguistics at the UW and a former I-LABS research scientist.
The study, published online Jan. 22 in Mind, Brain, and Education, extends previous research that examined whether and how infants can learn a second language in the context of an early education center, if they don't get that exposure at home. That 2017 study involved 280 children at four infant education centers in Madrid, Spain, and showed the effects of an interactive, play-based English-language program, compared to the standard bilingual program already available in Madrid schools.
Study - Curriculum - Tutors - Program - SparkLing
The new study used the same curriculum but trained tutors differently, using an online program called SparkLing developed by I-LABS researchers. By testing a remote form of teacher training and providing lessons to larger groups of children, researchers explored how to spread...
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