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Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic

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Language Learning and the Developing Brain

The child's brain is different from the adult brain in that it is a very dynamic structure that is evolving. A two-year-old child has twice as many synapses (connections) in the brain as an adult. The young brain must use these connections or lose them. Thus, failure to learn a skill during a critical or sensitive period has important significance. According to Dr. Michael Phelps, Chairman of the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology of the UCLA School of Medicine, the learning experiences of the child determine which connections are developed and which will no longer function.

Dr. Patricia Kuhl, a Speech Scientist at the University of Washington, reports that babies are born "citizens of the world" in that they can distinguish differences among sounds (temporal, spectral, and duration cues) borrowed from all languages. They are ready to learn any language they hear, but by six months of age, they start to specialize in their native language.

Dr. Susan Curtiss, Professor of Linguistics at UCLA, who studies the way children learn languages, notes that in language development there is a window of opportunity in which the child learns that first language normally. After this period, the brain becomes slowly less plastic and by the time the child reaches adolescence, the brain cannot develop "richly and normally any real cognitive system, including language. "The four- or five-year old learning a second language is a "perfect model for the idea of the critical period." According to Dr. Curtis ...the power to learn language is so great in the young child that it doesn't seem to matter how many languages you seem to throw their way...They can learn as many spoken languages as you can allow them to hear systematically and regularly at the same time. Children just have this capacity. Their brain is just ripe to do this...there doesn't seem to be any detriment to...develop(ing) several languages at the same time.

When children wait until high school to start studying a foreign language, the job is much harder. The task now involves learning the rules of grammar, translating, reading, and trying to develop language learning strategies. The task is a different one than it was for the young child in the sensitive period for language learning. Brain plasticity has been lost, the number of synapses has greatly reduced, and the brain no longer has the same facility to restructure itself that it had when the child was young.

Reprinted from the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL).
(1996, winter). "Learning Languages,1"(2), 17.

~ School News ~

Welcome to Kindergarten(Posted:5/4/2018)

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 Thursday, May 31st at 6:00-7:00 pm

Parents/Guardians and new JK students for this upcoming September 2018

are invited to join us for an information session.

An evening of meeting, greeting and of course playing.

Living Rosary(Posted:5/4/2018)

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Tuesday, May 15th at 1:30 pm

We will be joined by the Knights of Columbus as we pray

the living rosary. Everyone is welcome.

 

Spaghetti Supper(Posted:5/4/2018)

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Please join us for our annual Spaghetti Dinner.

All funds raised will go towards student activities and sporting equipment.

Thursday, May 10th 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Catholic Education Week(Posted:5/4/2018)

Join us for various activities this week.

See the school newsletter for specific dates/times for specific classes.

School Supplies 2017-2018(Posted:8/23/2016)

Dear Parent(s)/ Guardian(s),

School supplies by grade level have been posted. There may be a few additional items that will be required specific to your classroom teacher suggestions. These lists will get you started:

 

 

~ Board News ~

Transportation Reminder: Updating Information(Posted:6/11/2018)

Avoid the September rush!  Are you moving or changing child care providers between now and the start of the next school year?  Now is the time to contact your school to update your address and confirm busing eligibility for next year.

For details, please contact the Nipissing-Parry Sound Student Transportation Services at 705-472-8840 or by visiting www.npssts.ca.

Back to School Learning Technology Drop-In & Exhibition(Posted:6/7/2018)

Involving parents in their children’s progress in the classroom has long been shown to significantly increase student outcomes. With parent engagement top of mind, we invite parents and their children in grades 4-8 to participate in our Back To School Learning Technologies Drop-In Session, August 27, 2018. Experience the ‘hands on’ ways parents can help their child succeed in the classroom, by using technology at home to enhance and support student learning. Register today!