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It all comes down to the right brainwaves.


Neuroscientific studies into language learning could produce a wealth of evidence to help teachers, writes Melanie Butler

Neuroscience loves language learning. And I am learning to love neuroscience. As my ageing brain struggles to deal with life in any of my languages, I find it such a comfort to know that multilingualism protects against dementia.

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Appoint a busy woman – you’d be a fool not to

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A critical mass of women will come into management positions only when there are enough role models to inspire them, writes Irena Barker.

I was up a windswept hill in the driving rain with my three young children when I first shouted the word ‘idiot’ at one of them. My middle child was standing at a 45 degree angle in the howling wind atop a vast cairn with his raincoat wide open. He was rummaging in his bag for a KitKat.

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Don’t come up for air just yet.


After a long summer, UK teachers could do with a break – but there’s one last challenge ahead, writes Irena Barker

It’s been a long summer – and you’re exhausted. Teaching the future perfect continuous to a crowd of hungover Italians was probably what finished you off.

Or maybe it was that tricky lesson involving a malfunctioning projector and a class of near-mute French girls stroking their smartphones under the desk?

Either way, managers and teachers in the British ELT sector surely now deserve a break – except all is not over for management.

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There’s more to China than Kung Fu Panda

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I will be the first to admit that, until recently, I knew almost nothing about China. I suffered from a kind of ‘China blindness’ typical of many Brits that reduces a massive highly advanced nation to a series of clichés involving chopsticks and Mao’s little red book.

My sketchy knowledge was based – I am sorry to say – on repeat viewings of Kung Fu Panda and, in more high brow moments, on Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if Chinese people were constantly engaged in one long martial arts battle while bouncing about on invisible strings. I’m ashamed to say, I was the British equivalent of the Chinese tourist who thinks the whole of England is like an episode of Pride and Prejudice.

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Harnessing the glee of ‘covfefe’.

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Schools need to devote time if they start languages early

Humans love to take glee in language – its sounds, curious spellings and quirks. And from this seemingly inborn playfulness, we have created everything from silly puns in Christmas cracker jokes to the most highbrow poetry.

The universality of this was illustrated recently when the Twitter social media site melted into amusement when Donald Trump used the curious word ‘covfefe’ in a tweet.

Did it have a secret meaning or was it just one glorious typo? (We think he meant to write the word ‘coverage’.)

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