Interesting News Bites this week on Language and Literacy

Date: 14th July 2014

Posted on: 14-07-2014

This week we look back at some interesting items that have popped up on the BBC. Results of national testing and a new study discussing language development were hot topics.


To start the week the BBC covered a report by the National Literary Trust suggesting children were reading less in their spare time outside of school. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24387523


How might this impact on language and literacy ?


Monday also saw figures published results from the second year that pupils have taken the new synthetic phonics test.The children are asked to sound out 40 words, some of which are made up, such as “voo”, “spron” and “terg” – to test their reading skills. More than two-thirds (69%) of pupils in state schools reached the expected level – up from 58% last year. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24381989


Wednesday’s news covered the reported fall in literacy test performance of young adults in the UK.


Young adults in England have scored among the lowest results in the industrialised world in international literacy and numeracy tests.


A major study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows how England’s 16 to 24-year-olds are falling behind their Asian and European counterparts. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24433320


Finally this week, a new study based at King’s College London, and Brown University studied 108 children with normal brain development between the ages of one and six.


They used brain scans to look at myelin – the insulation that develops from birth within the circuitry of the brain.They found the distribution of myelin is fixed from the age of four, suggesting the brain is most plastic in very early life.

Dr Jonathan O’Muircheartaigh, from King’s College London, led the study.


He told the BBC: “Since our work seems to indicate that brain circuits associated with language are more flexible before the age of four, early intervention for children with delayed language attainment should be initiated before this critical age.

Commenting on the study, Prof Dorothy Bishop osaid the research added important new information about early development of connections in brain regions important for cognitive functions.


“There is suggestive evidence of links with language development but it is too early to be confident about functional implications of the findings,” she said.



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