Jose Carillo's Forum


Sarah Palin coins “word of the year,” books boffo cable debut

November 15, 2010—Sarah Palin’s reality show scored huge ratings for its premiere Sunday night, while the guardians of usage at the New Oxford American Dictionary awarded the former Alaska governor the higher-brow distinction of coining 2010’s “word of the year”—“refudiate”—via her Twitter account.

According to TLC, roughly 4.96 million people tuned in to watch the first episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” That’s the biggest premiere in the channel’s history.
And as if the ratings triumph weren’t enough, today the New Oxford American Dictionary declared “refudiate” the top word in 2010—a verb that Palin apparently invented.

The former governor used the word in a Twitter message last summer, calling on “peaceful Muslims” to “refudiate” a planned mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York. When critics pounced on the made-up verb, Palin deleted the Tweet and replaced it with one that called on Muslims to “refute” the site—even though that usage made no sense, either, since to refute is to prove something to be untrue.

But in a release today, the New Oxford American Dictionary defended Palin’s use of the word: “From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used ‘refudiate,’ we have concluded that neither ‘refute’ nor ‘repudiate’ seems consistently precise, and that ‘refudiate’ more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of ‘reject.’”

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Russian becomes most popular foreign language in China

PRAVDA, November 12, 2010—While Russians are losing interest in their culture of speech, the Russian language has been gaining popularity in China, no matter how strange it may sound. The knowledge of the English language is considered very prestigious in Russia. If a Russian is fluent in English, he or she may consider themselves professionally successful. In China, students rush for special courses to study Russian.

The interest in the Russian language has been growing steadily in China recently. For example, one of the most popular TV shows in China is a Russian song contest. It is incredibly hard for a Chinese national to learn how to speak Russian. It is just as hard, as it is for a Russian to learn how to speak Chinese. However, Russian is becoming more and more important in China because the nation’s political and economic cooperation with Russia continues to expand every year.

Chinese students say that the knowledge of Russian will help them make from 3 to 5 thousand yuans a month (about $500-800). Such an amount is considered very good earnings for young specialists in the country.

There is nothing surprising about the fact that specialists with the knowledge of Russian are in great demand in China: a great deal of Chinese companies ship their products to Russia. In addition, many Chinese citizens intend to immigrate to Russia.

In 2009, about 40,000 Chinese students and 80,000 schoolchildren studied Russian. About 60,000 adult Chinese understand Russian.

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The foreign language Internet looms as the 21st century gold mine
By Christian Arno,

October 28, 2010—Times are tough in the English language Internet. With billions of pages of content competing for your attention, and many of them optimised for search engines, getting your web page into the broader search consciousness can be like running up the down escalator.

There is a place, though, where there’s less competition for keywords and domain names, and less content overall, and that place is the non-English or foreign language Internet.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Yes, we know that there’s money to be made with online marketing of multilingual websites,” but it never hurts to hammer the point home with some interesting statistics.

The future of the Internet is undeniably multilingual, as demonstrated by projects like the W3C Multilingual Web Workshop, which aims to develop standards for a universally accessible internet of diverse languages.

Internet marketers and e-commerce businesses that ignore the foreign language Internet are rejecting what will surely prove to be the great untapped resource of the 21st century.

Here’s why:

The English language currently only accounts for 31% of all online use.

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Early medieval manuscripts give new view of English life under the Normans
November 2, 2010—The culmination of a pioneering international project which has uncovered new insights on Norman England is to be celebrated on November 10 at the University of Leicester.

A new study of early medieval manuscripts written in the English language has revealed that the Normans, who conquered England in 1066, were not the destructive force of popular belief, sweeping away everything that had gone before.

The project, “The Production and Use of English Manuscripts 1060-1220,” was funded by the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) and provides contextual information and a catalogue of all the surviving books that were written between 1060 and 1220 that contain text written in the English language. This descriptive catalogue is freely available to other scholars in the field.

The new story shows English people living under Norman rule continued to write, read and preach in the English language as they had done under the Anglo-Saxon kings in earlier centuries, in the new social and political climate.

In particular it challenges the long-held view about the English language being driven underground after the Norman Conquest. 

“Hundreds of texts are written in English between 1060 and 1220 right across England – laws, sermons, saints’ lives, land charters, medicinal recipes and prayers,” said Dr. Orietta Da Rold, Lecturer in Chaucer and Medieval Literature at the University of Leicester, and Co-Director of the project. 

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Hunt is underway for 100 events that shaped the English language
By Rebecca Lefort, The Telegraph UK

October 24, 2010—From the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the fifth century to modern-day waves of immigration, the English language has been shaped by countless episodes in history.

Now The English Project, a charity dedicated to promoting the language, is compiling a list of the 100 most important events and locations which have made English what it is today.

The journey starts in Lakenheath in Suffolk, where the Undley Bracteate medallion was found, dated to 475 and bearing the first evidence of written English.

Then in 731 the Venerable Bede completed his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear – the first text to speak of the English language and the English people.

And by 871 King Alfred of Wessex, the first person to call the language “English,” was ordering translations from Latin into West Saxon, a dialect of Old English.

In recent times the language has adapted again and again, on its way to becoming the common tongue of 1.8 billion people worldwide.

The charity has already compiled a list of 20 of the most important events in the history of the language, and wants the public to help produce the final list of 100 crucial events.

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Best-selling foreign authors head to India

NEW DELHI, October 22, 2010—Indian readers of contemporary English fiction are reaping a rich harvest as top British and American authors head to India to promote their books. Best-selling names Ken Follet, Peter James, and Wilbur Smith are the latest to chart out trips to the country.

India has one of the biggest English language readerships outside the non-English speaking world and at 80 billion ($1.8 billion), the book publishing industry in India is also witnessing a boom unlike many Western countries which are still battling a downturn. 

Over the last two years at least a dozen top writers from the West have visited India to touch base with readers to boost sale.

Britain's best-selling author Follet will visit India in December on a three-city tour of Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai to promote his new book, Fall of Giants. He follows in the footsteps of best-selling writer Jeffrey Archer, who came to India in 2009 to promote his book Path of Glory.

Next will be a visit in February by James, a best-selling British author and movie producer, to promote his book, Dead Man’s Footsteps.

On the cards are promotional visits by cult novelists Wilbur Smith, who is of South African origin, known for mega epics like When the Lion Feeds and The Eye of the Tiger; and David Baldacci, the author of Absolute Power and Last Man Standing.

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A computer learns the hard way by reading the Internet
By Claire Evans,

NELL, for Never Ending Language Learner, reads the Web 24 hours a day, seven days a week, learning language like a human would — cumulatively, over a long period of time. It parses text on the Internet for ontological categories, like “plants,” “music” and “sports teams,” then uses contextual clues to sort out what things belong in which categories, like “Nirvana is a grunge band” and “Peyton Manning plays for the Indianapolis Colts.” And, perhaps most Skynet-horror-inducing, “anger is an emotion.”

In these estimations, NELL is 87 percent correct. And the more it learns, the more accurate it will become. Like the premise of a dystopian sci-fi story, Read the Web is both wonderful and terrifying — not unlike the idea of a “Semantic Web,” an Internet as comprehensible to computers as it is to humans, which has been in the computer science and AI discourse for years.

Upon discovering this project, I had tons of questions about NELL: Could it read other languages? Who gets the data in the end? Does it have parental controls on? To find out, we talked to Professor Tom Mitchell, chair of the Machine Learning Department of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and Burr Settles, a Carnegie Mellon postdoctoral fellow working on the project.

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French furious at move to make English the language of Europe
By Mark Reynolds,

A war of words has broken out across the Channel over a plea to make English the common language of Europe.

The Flemish Belgian education minister Pascal Smet riled his French-speaking colleagues by labelling English “the world’s most important language.”

Mr. Smet’s remarks yesterday sparked anger among French speakers in Belgium.
He insisted: “We have to admit European integration does not always go as smoothly as it should. One of the causes is that we don’t speak a common language – and that’s why I want to launch this idea. It seems logical to me to give more weight to English in education, maybe as early as from primary school.

“China introduced English as the second language two years ago. From an economic and political point of view, it’s the world’s most important language. And it’s also the common language in many companies.”

But the French community’s education spokeswoman Marie-Dominique Simonet hit back: “These unfortunate remarks are hardly going to help improve relations between the Flemish and French speakers in this country.”
And a leading French-Belgian political website said: “It is high time the Flemish stopped trying to dictate who speaks which language – and to stop trying to create a hierarchy of languages.”

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China wants more foreign students to consider using its universities

Sixty years ago there were just 20 foreign students studying in China. By 2020, there should be 500,000.

That’s what will happen if a plan released Tuesday by the Chinese Ministry of Education does what it sets out to do.

Easier visa access, an increase in the number of scholarships available and more English language courses are among the policies to be implemented by the MOE as it looks to open up China’s institutes of higher education to the outside world.

Money, of course, will help make the wheels of this project spin and China is hoping that most of those predicted 500,000 will be self-funding—a group that has grown to quite staggering numbers in recent years.

Last year there were a record almost 240,000 international students studying in China, according to the MOE, with representatives from 190 countries and regions around the world. In 1950, there were just 20 - and they all came from within the former Soviet Union.

While not releasing specific numbers, the ministry rated South Korea as the country which sends the greatest number of students to China, followed by the United States and Japan.

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Google unveils new tool to speed up searches
By Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO—Google, which can already feel like an appendage to our brains, is now predicting what people are thinking before they even type.

Google says its new tool will cumulatively save people more than 3.5 billion seconds every day.

On September 8, Google introduced Google Instant, which predicts Internet search queries and shows results as soon as someone begins to type, adjusting the results as each successive letter is typed.

“We want to make Google the third half of your brain,” said Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder and president of technology, speaking at a Google press event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for search products and user experience, added, “There’s even a psychic element to it.”

Google’s new psychic powers result in much faster searches, but the change might affect the many businesses that have been built around placing search ads on Google and helping Web sites figure out how to climb higher in search results to increase revenue.

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Students warned to beware of “laptop-it is”
By Alan Mozes, HealthDay

The very design of laptop computers encourages bad posture among college students and other heavy users, which can lead to headaches, muscle strain and debilitating neck, shoulder and hand injuries, researchers caution.

The issue stems from the unified body construction that defines laptops, researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, explained in a university news release. With an inseparable keyboard and monitor, users are not free to configure their equipment in a way that minimizes risk.

“When you use a laptop, you have to make some sort of sacrifice,” Dr. Kevin Carneiro, a physician in the UNC School of Medicine's department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, stated in the news release.

Such a sacrifice to convenience comes at a price, Carneiro noted. Awkward positioning of the fingers and body can cause nerve injury to the wrist and prompt the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, while poor neck position and shoulder posture can cause muscle strain and soreness in those areas.

Signs of trouble typically come in the form of headaches, wrist pain, tingling in the fingers or thumb, and neck and shoulder pain, he added.

Concern about such laptop health issues is driven by their rising popularity, as worldwide sales now exceed those of standard desktop computers. Students are particularly vulnerable, since laptops are a common feature of campus life.

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Microsoft Engkoo—intelligent English to Chinese translator
Engkoo is Microsoft’s linguistic equivalent of “teach a man to fish” when it comes down to enabling Chinese users to learn English.

Released by Bing in China, the new project delivers language assistance search technology which provides Chinese speakers with much more than a dictionary.

Instead, users can leverage the search engine linguistics capabilities of Engkoo to unravel the mysteries of the English language, including slang and idioms.

Engkoo provides search and translation capabilities, but also diverse results to queries, from text to images and to video. Of course, the focus here is to offer context, rather than simple translation.

At the same time, the software giant has taken it one step further and included text-to-speech functionality. Moreover, Engkoo is perfectly capable to understand the phonetic version of words, and still allow users to perform accurate searches.

“According to statistics, about 15 new words and uses for words appear in the English language every day,” noted Ming Zhou, senior researcher and research manager of the Natural Language Processing Group at Microsoft Research in Beijing.

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Online learning startup rises on wings of “angel investors”

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP)—A startup intent on making it simple for anyone to teach online announced Tuesday that it has received a million dollars in funding from “angel investors.” will use the cash to hire workers and ramp-up operations, co-founder Gagan Biyani told AFP.

“We want to essentially democratize education so that anyone can teach over the Internet,” Biyani said. “We make it really easy for anyone to develop an online course. We don’t give advice how to teach, but we provide the tools to do it.”

Biyani and the two other co-founders have been the entire workforce since Udemy launched in May in the northern California city of Palo Alto.

Most courses listed at Udemy on Tuesday were free to aspiring students. Topics ranged from how to start a business or use computer software tools to winning at poker or picking up women.

The course list included an online class by high-level Google executive Marissa Mayer titled “Ideas come from everywhere.”

More than a thousand instructors have created courses at Udemy, with a host of offerings coming from prestigious US universities including Stanford, Yale, and MIT.

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Japan removes language barrier in nursing exams

Japan will provide English translations in a professional nursing exam to remove a language hurdle for foreign applicants after almost all of them failed the test this year, officials said Wednesday.

Hundreds of nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines have been allowed to work temporarily in rapidly ageing Japan, but they have to pass the Japanese language test if they hope to stay longer than a few years.

To respond to rising complaints that the tests are discriminatory, the health ministry has also decided to simplify the wording of some of the exam questions ahead of the next test in February, ministry officials said.

Historically, Japan has imposed tight limits on immigration but has allowed several hundred certified nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines into the country to help make up a shortage of health-care workers.

Those who hope to stay longer than three years in the case of nurses, and four years in the case of caregivers, need to pass the examinations, forcing them to quickly learn thousands of Japanese characters and medical terms.

This year only three people—two Indonesian nurses and one from the Philippines—passed the test, while the other 251 applicants failed.

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Pupils do better at school if teachers are not fixated on test results

Children perform best in exams when teachers are not overly concerned about their test results, according to research in the United Kingdom published last August 13.

Pupils show greater motivation, are better behaved and are more likely to be independent and strategic thinkers when teachers are not obsessed by grades, the study by the Institute of Education found.

Government policy increasingly points teachers in the opposite direction, encouraging them to concentrate on students’ results, said the study’s author, Chris Watkins, a reader in education at the institute.

Ministers have placed teachers under so much pressure to ensure students perform well in national exams that they increasingly talk at their pupils, rather than talk to them and ask them open questions, he said. The latter leads students to deepen their learning and perform at their optimum, according to Watkins, who analyzed the findings of more than 100 international studies on how teachers can best help pupils to learn.

The word “learning” was rarely heard in classrooms, he said, while teachers were more worried about their pupils’ performance in exams. They had resorted to narrowing the curriculum and drilling pupils for tests, Watkins argued, and this made the students less motivated.

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Music in background during study may mess up memory, study finds
By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Studying for an exam while listening to music is not smart, because background music can impair your ability to perform memory tasks, new research has found.

Study participants were asked to recall a list of eight consonants in the order they were presented. They did this while in five different sound environments: quiet surroundings; music they liked; music they disliked; changing state (a sequence of random digits); and steady state (a sequence of steady digits such as “3, 3, 3, 3”).

The participants’ recall ability was poorest when listening to music, regardless of whether they liked or disliked it, and in changing-state conditions. The most accurate recall occurred when participants performed the task in steady-state environments, according to the study published online in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.

“The poorer performance of the music and changing-state sounds are due to the acoustical variation within those environments. This impairs the ability to recall the order of items, via rehearsal, within the presented list,” explained lead researcher Nick Perham, a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, in a news release from the journal's publisher.

“Mental arithmetic also requires the ability to retain order information in the short-term via rehearsal, and may be similarly affected by their performance in the presence of changing-state, background environments,” he added.

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Thousands of unused words in Oxford Press vault

“Wurfing,” “polkadodge” and “nonversation” are among the words stored in secret files after being rejected for inclusion by the Oxford English Dictionary, it has been disclosed.

Millions of “non words” which failed to make the dictionary lie unused in a vault owned by the Oxford University Press.

“Wurfing” means surfing the internet at work, while “polkadodge” describes the strange little dance two passing people do when they try to avoid each other but move in the same direction, and “nonversation” denotes a pointless chat.

These words were recently submitted for use in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) but will remain dormant unless they enter common parlance in the future.

Graphic designer Luke Ngakane, 22, uncovered hundreds of “non words” as part of a project for Kingston University, London.

He said: “I was fascinated when I read that the Oxford University Press has a vault where all their failed words, which didn’t make the dictionary, are kept. This storeroom contains millions of words and some of them date back hundreds of years.”

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Canada now global leader in young college graduates; US falls from 1st to 12th

Canada is now the global leader in higher education among young adults, with 55.8 percent of that population holding an associate degree or better as of 2007, while the  United States has fallen from first to 12th in the share of adults ages 25 to 34 with postsecondary degrees.

This is according to a new report from the College Board, which said that the US—with 40.4 percent of young adults holding postsecondary credentials—sits 11 places back of Canada. The United States ranks somewhat higher, sixth, among all nations when older adults are added to the equation, the report said.

The report, presented to Capitol Hill policymakers last July 22, is backed by a commission of highly placed educators who have set a goal for the United States to reclaim world leadership in college completion—and attain a 55 percent completion rate—by 2025.

The campaign mirrors President Obama’s quest to reclaim world leadership in college graduates by 2020, although it gives the country five more years to get there. The Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education set its goal in December 2008, seven months before Obama's American Graduation Initiative.

“I don’t think what we’re saying and what the president’s saying are that different,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, the New York nonprofit agency responsible for the SAT and AP tests.

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Debate on charging fees for online news content remains unresolved

ASPEN, Colorado—Top technology and media executives wrapped up a three-day conference here during which they grappled with—and left unresolved—the question of whether readers will pay for news online.

Firmly in the paid camp in the “paid vs. free” debate was News Corp.’s head of digital operations Jon Miller who said charging online readers is a notion that has been “accepted at a variety of levels.”

“It’s more about how it gets done,” Miller told participants in the Fortune Brainstorm Tech event which ended last July 24 in this Colorado ski resort.

With newspapers and magazines facing competition from free content on the Web and declining circulation and print advertising revenue, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has been leading the charge to get newspaper readers to pay online.

The Wall Street Journal, a News Corp. title, is currently the only major US newspaper to charge readers for full access to its website and one of the few to buck the trend of eroding circulation.

Miller said charging readers is “an idea whose time has come,” but others disagreed including Jimmy Pitaro, Yahoo!’s vice president for media.

“We firmly believe that free is the future,” said Pitaro, whose Yahoo! News is one of the most popular news destinations on the Web.

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As English spreads, Indonesians fear for their language
By Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Paulina Sugiarto’s three children played together at a mall here the other day, chattering not in Indonesia’s national language, but English. Their fluency often draws admiring questions from other Indonesian parents Ms. Sugiarto encounters in this city’s upscale malls.

At a mall in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Paulina Sugiarto and her three children, who speak fluent English, looked over comic books in Indonesian.

But the children’s ability in English obscured the fact that, though born and raised in Indonesia, they were struggling with the Indonesian language, known as Bahasa Indonesia. Their parents, who grew up speaking the Indonesian language but went to college in the United States and Australia, talk to their children in English. And the children attend a private school where English is the main language of instruction.

“They know they’re Indonesian,” Ms. Sugiarto, 34, said. “They love Indonesia. They just can’t speak Bahasa Indonesia. It’s tragic.”

Indonesia’s linguistic legacy is increasingly under threat as growing numbers of wealthy and upper-middle-class families shun public schools where Indonesian remains the main language but English is often taught poorly. They are turning, instead, to private schools that focus on English and devote little time, if any, to Indonesian.

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Millions of books get digitized for the disabled
By Stephanie Steinberg, USA Today

For those who are blind, dyslexic or have diseases like multiple sclerosis and have difficulty turning book pages, reading the latest best seller just got easier.

Brewster Kahle, a digital librarian and founder of a virtual library called the Internet Archive, has launched a worldwide campaign to double the number of books available for print-disabled people.

The Internet Archive began scanning books in 2004 and now has more than 1 million available in DAISY format, or Digital Accessible Information System, a means of creating “talking” books that can be downloaded to a handheld device. Unlike books on tape, the digital format makes it easier for print-disabled people to navigate books because they can speed up, slow down and skip around from chapter to chapter.

About 7 million books are downloaded by Internet Archive users around the world each month, Kahle says. With 20 scanning centers in the USA and eight in countries around the world, the archive scans more than 1,000 books a day from more than 150 libraries, including the Library of Congress— the largest library in the world that also offers online digitalized collections of books, articles and newspapers.

The U.S. government, foundations and libraries provide funding for the Internet Archive. To help with the campaign, Kahle received a grant from the city of San Francisco to employ 100 “digital technicians” who work to scan books that people and organizations are donating for the project. The technicians were all formerly unemployed or underemployed single parents.

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Battle intensifies for $2 billion English-teaching business in China

In South Korea, pushy parents who want their children to get ahead in learning English send them for an operation to elongate the tongue, in the belief that it will make pronunciation easier.

Such is the national obsession with having a fluent command of the language that drastic measures are taken in some cases when children are just six months old. China has not yet reached the same level of fanaticism over spoken English, but it is not far off.

Chinese children with affluent parents are packed off to classes staffed by American, Canadian and British teachers as soon as they can speak. High school students are frequently enrolled in extra-curricular classes to cram for the English component of the university entrance exam. And young professionals aspiring to a more interesting and lucrative career flock to classrooms and online lessons and even stadiums alongside tens of thousands of other evangelical linguists.

To meet this rising demand, there are now an estimated 30,000 organizations or companies offering private English classes in China. The market has nearly doubled in size in the last five years and is now worth around $3.1bn.

Disney English, a subsidiary of the US entertainment giant, has rapidly expanded since launching in October 2008, after thousands of parents signed their toddlers up for its special curriculum of Disney-themed classes.

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Study shows teens benefit from later school day

CHICAGO (AP)—Giving teens 30 extra minutes to start their school day leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness, and even healthier breakfasts, a small study found.

“The results were stunning. There’s no other word to use,” said Patricia Moss, academic dean at the Rhode Island boarding school where the study was done. “We didn't think we'd get that much bang for the buck.”

The results appear in July’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The results mirror those at a few schools that have delayed starting times more than half an hour.

Researchers say there’s a reason why even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Teens tend to be in their deepest sleep around dawn—when they typically need to arise for school. Interrupting that sleep can leave them groggy, especially since they also tend to have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m.

“There's biological science to this that I think provides compelling evidence as to why this makes sense,” said Brown University sleep researcher Dr. Judith Owens, the study's lead author and a pediatrician at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, R.I.

An Archives editorial said the study adds to “a growing body of evidence that changing the start time for high schools is good for adolescents.”

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Aggressive teachers harm pupils’ education, says an academic
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor,

Shouting at children and handing out too many detentions in the classroom can seriously undermine pupils’ education, according to an academic.

A hard-line approach to discipline can easily backfire because children fail to learn properly when they are scared, it was claimed.

In a blow to traditionalists, Dr Andrew Curran said that pupils were better stimulated by rewards and a “loving” culture generated by teachers.

He said almost half of pupils were turned off lessons in the first six months of secondary education because of the shock caused by moving from the more secure surroundings of a small primary school.

It comes despite claims from Sir Alan Steer, the Government's chief advisor on behaviour, that the threat of a “right royal rollicking” was the best way to crack down on troublemakers.

But Dr Curran, paediatric neurologist at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Merseyside, said pupils could not learn in a hostile environment.

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“Inchoate” tops list of most-looked-up New York Times words

WASHINGTON (AFP)—What are the 50 words that stump readers of The New York Times the most?

The newspaper on Tuesday published its annual list of the words that readers have looked up the most frequently on using the website’ built-in American Heritage dictionary tool.

“Inchoate,” “profligacy,” “sui generis,” “austerity” and “profligate” topped the list followed by “baldenfreude,” a non-existent word that a New York Times columnist threw into an article, puzzling readers.

“Opprobrium,” “apostates,” “solipsistic” and “obduracy” were next on the list of the most-frequently looked up words followed by “internecine,” “soporific,” “Kristallnacht,” “peripatetic” and “nascent.”

The top word, “inchoate,” which means not yet completed, was used in 13 news articles and seven op-ed pieces or editorials between January 1 and May 26 of this year and was looked up a total of 8,172 times.

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Spelling champ’s victory hat-trick for Indian-Americans

Is it because of Indian colonial history with Britain or is it something at the level of genetic programming? Whatever the explanation, there is no denying that Indians have a penchant for the English language, a trans-generational, linguistic love affair that gets transmitted even to far-flung diaspora.

This week, the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States was—for the third consecutive year and for the eighth time in the last 11 years—won by an Indian-American, Anamika Veeramani of North Royalton, Ohio.

Anamika won after nine nerve-wracking rounds, culminating in her correctly spelling “stromuhr,” a device used to measure blood flow velocity. She fought her way through earlier rounds successfully spelling words like “foggara,” “osteomyelitis,” “mirin,” “nahcolite,” “epiphysis,” and, in the penultimate round, “juvia,” a term for a Brazilian nut.

Anamika, an eighth grade student at the Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights, was competing in her second consecutive Spelling Bee, after tying at fifth place last year. This year’s competition began on Wednesday with 273 competitors who qualified through locally sponsored bees in their home communities.

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Britain’s new romance language is English
By Jennifer Quinn, Associated Press

LONDON—Love may have its own language—but that’s not good enough for the British government.

It wants English, too.

Starting this fall, the spouse of a citizen who is coming from outside the European Union and wants to live in Britain will have to prove he or she has a basic command of English.

The move, announced Wednesday by the new Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron, comes as countries across Europe tighten their rules on immigration amid rising unemployment rates and concerns about the ability of newcomers to integrate.

The famously tolerant Netherlands was holding an election Wednesday in which a far-right party that wants to ban all immigration from nonwestern countries has a shot at doubling its seats in Parliament.

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Quebec government struggles with access to English-language education

QUEBEC (AHN)—Canada’s divisions between its English-speaking and French-speaking communities arose again this week in a dispute in Quebec’s legislature over access to English-language public education.

The separatist Parti Quebecois is using procedural maneuvers to block a vote on a law that would broaden the rights of children to receive education in English.

Members of the Liberal government proposed the law but set aside a vote on it in the face of fierce opposition.

The proposed legislation, Bill 103, would amend the Charter of the French Language.
The charter designates French as the official language of Quebec.

In 2002, Parti Quebecois succeeded in passing a law that limited children’s access to education in English.

Last October, the Supreme Court overturned it.

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