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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are People Who Speak More Than One Language Smarter? Có phải người nói nhiều thứ tiếng thông minh hơn không?

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In the early nineteen fifties, researchers found that people scored lower on intelligence tests if they spoke more than one language. Research in the nineteen sixties found the opposite. So which is it? Researchers presented their newest studies in February at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Vào đầu những năm 50, các nhà nghiên cứu thấy rằng những người bị điểm thấp trong các bài kiểm tra trí thông minh nếu họ nói nhiều hơn một ngôn ngữ. Những nghiên cứu trong thập niên sáu mươi của thế kỷ hai mươi phát hiện điều ngược lại. Thế thì, điều gì đúng? Các nhà nghiên cứu đã trình bày các công trình mới nhất của họ hồi tháng Hai tại một cuộc họp của Hiệp hội Nghiên cứu Khoa học Tiên tiến Hoa Kỳ.

The latest evidence shows that being bilingual does not necessarily make people smarter. But researcher Ellen Bialystok says it probably does make you better at certain skills. She says:

Các bằng chứng mới nhất cho thấy là song ngữ không nhất thiết phải làm cho người ta thông minh hơn. Nhưng nhà nghiên cứu Ellen Bialystok nói biết nhiều ngôn ngũ có thể làm cho bạn giỏi hơn ở những kỹ năng nhất định. Bà nói:

"Imagine driving down the highway. There are many things that could capture your attention and you really need to be able to monitor all of them. Why would bilingualism make you any better at that?" And the answer, she says, is that bilingual people are often better at controlling their attention -- a function called the executive control system. She says it is possibly the most important cognitive system we have. It is where all of our decisions about what to attend to, what to ignore and what to process are made. Ms. Bialystok is a psychology professor at York University in Toronto, Canada.

"Hãy tưởng tượng bạn đang lái xe trên đường cao tốc. Có rất nhiều điều mà có thể khiến bạn chú ý và bạn thực sự cần có khả năng quan trắc tất cả chúng Tại sao song ngữ sẽ làm cho bạn có chút nào đó giỏi hơn trong việc này?" Và câu trả lời, bà nói, là những người song ngữ thường giỏi kiểm soát sự chú ý của họ hơn - một chức năng được gọi là hệ thống quản lý điều hành. Bà nói rằng nó có thể là hệ thống nhận thức quan trọng nhất mà chúng ta có. Đó là nơi mà đưa các quyết định về việc chúng ta định làm gì, bỏ qua cái gì nên tiến hành cái gì. Bà Bialystok là một giáo sư tâm lý học tại Đại học York ở Toronto, Canada.

She says the best method to measure the executive control system is called the Stroop Test. A person is shown words in different colors. The person has to ignore the word but say the color. The problem is that the words are all names of colors. She explains: "So you would have the word 'blue' written in red, but you have to say 'red.' But blue is just lighting up all these circuits in your brain, and you really want to say 'blue.' So you need a mechanism to override that so that you can say 'red.' That's the executive control system."

Bà nói rằng phương pháp tốt nhất để đo hệ thống kiểm soát điều hành được gọi là thử nghiệm Stroop. Một người được cho xem các từ được viết trong các màu sắc khác nhau. Người này phải bỏ qua từ nhưng phải nói màu sắc. Vấn đề là tất cả những từ này đều là tên của các màu sắc. Bà giải thích: "Vì vậy, bạn sẽ có từ 'xanh da trời' được viết bằng màu đỏ, nhưng bạn phải nói "đỏ." Nhưng màu xanh da trời đã làm sáng lên tất cả các mạch điện trong não bạn, và bạn thực sự muốn nói "xanh da trời. ' Vì vậy, bạn cần một cơ chế để ghi đè lên đó để bạn có thể nói "đỏ." Đó là hệ thống quản lý điều hành."

Her work shows that bilingual people continually practice this function. They have to, because both languages are active in their brain at the same time. They need to suppress one to be able to speak in the other. This mental exercise might help in other ways, too. Researchers say bilingual children are better able to separate a word from its meaning, and more likely to have friends from different cultures.


Bilingual adults are often four to five years later than others in developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Foreign language study has increased in the United States. But linguist Alison Mackey at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. points out that English-speaking countries are still far behind the rest of the world.

Công trình nghiên của bà cho thấy rằng những người song ngữ liên tục thực hành chức năng này. Họ phải làm thế, bởi vì cả hai ngôn ngữ đang hoạt động đồng thời trong não họ. Họ cần phải trấn áp ngôn ngữ này để có thể nói ngôn ngữ kia. Bài tập thể dục tinh thần này có thể có tác dụng về nhiều phương diện khác nữa. Các nhà nghiên cứu cho rằng trẻ em song ngữ có thể dễ dàng tách biệt một từ ra khỏi ý nghĩa của nó, và dễ làm bạn bè với người từ các nền văn hóa khác nhau hơn.

Người lớn song ngữ thường phát triển chứng mất trí hoặc bệnh Alzheimer chậm hơn 4-5 năm so với những người khác. Việc học ngoại ngữ đã tăng lên tại Hoa Kỳ. Nhưng nhà ngôn ngữ học Alison Mackey tại Đại học Georgetown ở Washington, DC chỉ ra rằng các nước nói tiếng Anh vẫn (học ngoại ngữ) thua xa phần còn lại của thế giới.


Translated by hanh hien



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American football has replaced baseball as America's favorite sport. Football has traditionally been played by men -- big men who like to hit. However, in the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of women's football leagues. The women play by the same rules and with the same level of physical contact as the men's sport. Tarsha Fain is team captain of the Baltimore Nighthawks.TARSHA FAIN: "I feel women can do anything a man can do. The same way they get out there and hit, we get out there and hit too." Fain and team owner Tanya Bryan were part of the first ever women's World Championship last year. The American team -- with Fain playing and Bryan serving as team manager -- won the gold medal. TANYA BRYAN: "To be the first, the first time it was done, and be part of it, you know, no one else can ever say that. So it's just a wonderful feeling. I'm so proud of that." About ten women's professional football leagues have been formed in the United States in recent years. Many have either joined with other leagues or failed. But the sport continues to grow. Ghoncheh Mossanen is an offensive specialist for the Nighthawks. She has played football for 28 years. Mossanen says the sport is her therapy. It is what she looks forward to the most.GHONCHEH MOSSANEN: "I feel there's a transformation when I go from putting on my gear and stepping on this football field. It's a huge mental transformation." Mossanen moved to America from Iran as a child. She remembers the first time she ever played football -- at a game in her neighborhood. GHONCHEH MOSSANEN: "I remember getting the phone call from my cousin saying 'come on out, we need one more person to play.' I didn't know what it was. I had never played the game and I remember going out there and just fell in love with it." Most of the other players on the Nighthawks have also played since they were children. Most played unofficially or in non-contact leagues. But for team owner Tanya Bryan, women's football was a completely new experience. TANYA BRYAN: "It's funny, I didn't even realize the sport existed for women. And I got a phone call from a friend of mine and she said there was an opportunity to own a team in Baltimore. And I thought it sounded really exciting and I said yes, and four years later here I am." When Bryan bought the team she did not expect to make money right away. After four years, she is no longer losing money. But Bryan says what was most important to her was giving young women a chance to play ball.TANYA BRYAN: "Most of the time as women growing up we're told, you know - not to be aggressive, and you know not to be assertive. And it's nice to have an outlet where you can come somewhere and let all of that out. You know you can be loud. You can hit somebody. You can just let it all go. And you know I think it's really, it's really healthy, you know. Great athleticism is required for football and the team camaraderie is just fantastic." The teamwork was great in the team's recent game against the Philadelphia Firebirds. After a slow first half, the Nighthawks score ... and hang on for an 8-0 win.GHONCHEH MOSSANEN: "Its elation! I mean the team deserves it. We've been playing hard. It's amazing. Now it's our chance to make the championship." The Nighthawks did not win the championship. But, they say having a chance to play this traditionally men's sport against other women is itself a victory. I'm Faith Lapidus.

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Falling prices are fueling growth in high-speed Internet services, especially in developing countries. Recently the International Telecommunication Union released its "Measuring the Information Society 2011" report. The ITU, part of the United Nations, compared access, use and skills in one hundred fifty-two countries.The report says South Korea has the world's most developed economy in information and communication technology, or ICT. Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland were also among the top five in the ICT Development Index. The index compares two thousand eight and two thousand ten scores. Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Vietnam and Russia had some of the biggest improvements between those years. Susan Teltscher is head of the ICT Data and Statistics Division at the International Telecommunication Union in Switzerland. She says most of the growth has come from one source. "Mobile broadband is now leading the growth race among the different ICT indicators -- much higher than the other key indicators that we look at, like regular mobile phone subscriptions, fixed telephone or fixed broadband. ... And the good news is that it's also starting to grow in developing countries." Mobile broadband subscriptions reached eight hundred seventy-two million by the end of last year. Three hundred million of those are in developing countries. Ms. Teltscher says "If we can bring Internet over the mobile phones, then we can really make a difference in terms of improving Internet access also in developing countries." Falling prices are adding to the growth, she says: "Especially in the broadband area, the prices dropped by over fifty percent between two thousand eight and two thousand ten -- which is a very encouraging finding because this was primarily drops in the developing countries." Even so, the report says people in many low-income countries are still paying too much for high-speed Internet connections. In Africa, broadband service for a home or office cost almost three times an average monthly income last year. That was down from six and a half times as much in two thousand eight. Also, there are big differences in broadband speed and quality from country to country. South Korea has Asia's fourth largest economy. Susan Teltscher says, "If you look at ... what they have been achieving in terms of ICT development, it's actually higher than what you would expect given their national income." For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.

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A few months ago, government researchers released the latest American Time Use Survey. It included the average time per day that Americans spent providing child care between two thousand six and two thousand ten. Among adults living with children under age six, women spent one hour and six minutes a day providing physical care like bathing or feeding. Men spent twenty-six minutes. Yet a new study suggests that men are biologically designed to care for their children. It confirmed that testosterone levels drop after men become fathers. Testosterone is the main sex hormone responsible for the changes when a boy develops into a man. Women also produce testosterone but in much lower amounts. Earlier studies showed that fathers have lower levels of testosterone than childless men. Christopher Kuzawa at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, says there are at least two possible explanations: "Is it that fatherhood reduces your testosterone? Or do men with low testosterone to begin with, are they more likely to become fathers? And so what we did is, we followed men through time and measured their hormones before and after they became fathers."The researchers used findings from a long-term study of men in the Philippines. Their testosterone levels were measured in two thousand five and two thousand nine. Some of the men were childless; others became fathers during that time. And those were the men where the researchers saw the largest decline in testosterone.The study found that levels dropped by about half immediately after the birth of a child, then rose some. Men who were active in child care produced less than those who were not active. Testosterone may drop in fathers to get them to pay more attention to parenting than to reproducing. But Professor Kuzawa says there are other good reasons as well: "Having high levels of testosterone can increase your risk for diseases like prostate cancer [and] testicular cancer." The study is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Studies have shown a similar drop in other mammals and in birds after mating periods to allow for care giving. Animal studies have also shown that the greater the involvement of males, the lower their testosterone levels.We asked Thomas McDade, another author of the study, if levels also drop in men who adopt children. That is an interesting question, he says, and the "next obvious thing to study." For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.

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Claremont Lincoln University near Los Angeles is a new graduate school for religious education. It hopes to change the way religious leaders in the United States are educated. The school will train Muslim, Jewish and Christian clergy together. It offers master's degree programs in interreligious studies and Muslim leadership. Administrators think this is the first "interreligious university" of its kind. Three institutions founded Claremont Lincoln. One is the Claremont School of Theology, where the university is located. The other founders are the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, and the Islamic Center of Southern California. Students from one institution may take courses at the others. The Islamic school is just beginning its programs. The founders hope to begin training imams sometime next year. David Lincoln is chairman of the board of Claremont Lincoln. He and his wife, Joan, donated fifty million dollars to the university. He says "In a lot of places now, [religions] fight each other, and if the religions could encourage solutions to the problems, then the problems would be solved and we'd all be better off."Reverend Jerry Campbell, president of the Claremont School of Theology, says teaching religion this way will strengthen society. "If we can't love our neighbors who are not like us, if we can't love them being who they are, how can our country hang together?" Jihad Turk is director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California. He says this way of educating religious leaders will show that in the United States, "there is great support from private institutions, from the public at large and by the government, as well, that recognizes that Islam and Muslims are on the side of peace."Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa's ambassador to the United States, spoke at the university. He says interfaith cooperation is a way to balance extremism. "Anyone can step into the breach and claim to be speaking for God, and unless the middle ground is able to establish what is God's purpose, we will cede more and more ground to the fundamentalists."Reverend Campbell says he hopes to bring more religions to Claremont Lincoln, including the Bahai faith. An International School of Jain Studies will offer short-term exchange programs and seminars on Jainism, a religion from India. Reverend Campbell says the goal is to unite people to promote religion as a source of healing, compassion and peace.For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.


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Businesses are structured in different ways to meet different needs. The simplest form of business is called an individual or sole proprietorship. The proprietor owns all of the property of the business and is responsible for everything. For legal purposes, with this kind of business, the owner and the company are the same. This means the proprietor gets to keep all of the profits of the business, but must also pay any debts. Another kind of business is the partnership. Two or more people go into business together. An agreement is usually needed to decide how much of the partnership each person controls. One kind of partnership is called a limited liability partnership. These have full partners and limited partners. Limited partners may not share as much in the profits, but they also have less responsibility for the business. Doctors, lawyers and accountants often form partnerships to share their risks and profits. A husband and wife can form a business partnership together. Partnerships exist only for as long as the owners remain alive. The same is true of individual proprietorships. But corporations are designed to have an unlimited lifetime. A corporation is the most complex kind of business organization. Corporations can sell stock as a way to raise money. Stock represents shares of ownership in a company. Investors who buy stock can trade their shares or keep them as long as the company is in business. A company might use some of its earnings to pay dividends as a reward to shareholders. Or the company might reinvest the money back into the business. If shares lose value, investors can lose all of the money they paid for their stock. But shareholders are not responsible for the debts of the corporation. A corporation is recognized as an entity -- its own legal being, separate from its owners. A board of directors controls corporate policies. The directors appoint top company officers. The directors might or might not hold shares in the corporation. Corporations can have a few major shareholders. Or ownership can be spread among the general public. But not all corporations are traditional businesses that sell stock. Some nonprofit groups are also organized as corporations. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.You can learn more about business and economics and learn English at the same time at voaspecialenglish.com. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English.

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Ten years ago David Masika bought a cotton mill in Eastern province, Kenya. Makueni Ginneries was operating with technology from the nineteen sixties. It produced only two hundred kilos of cotton in its first year under new ownership. Last year it sold six hundred thousand kilos, or about one thousand bales, earning its first profit since Mr. Masika bought it. World prices for cotton are up. But he worried that he might not have enough cotton to process if he invested in new technology. "We got into this vicious circle where we then were wondering, do I completely modernize this thing when I do not know whether the cotton is coming?" About a year ago, as the cotton supply in Kenya started increasing, he started modernizing half the machinery. Makueni is one of only four modern ginneries in the country. Kenya's cotton industry used to be strong. But almost twenty years ago a government agency collapsed. That agency had provided growers with a guaranteed price for cotton. Without that support, prices fell and so did production. Today, Kenya is part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. AGOA is an American law first signed in two thousand. It provides duty-free and quota-free treatment for certain clothing and other products from Africa. Kenya says its clothing exports tripled from two thousand one to two thousand six. But Kenya's cotton and textile industry is concerned about meeting future requirements of the law. AGOA countries have been operating under what is called a third-country fabric provision. This lets them use yarns and fabrics made in any country, not just AGOA countries. But starting next September those countries must be able to find the raw materials for their products regionally. Kenya's cotton industry wants the United States Congress to extend the third-country fabric provision. Micah Powon is chief executive of the Cotton Development Board. He says "If [we get] an extension period of two or three years by AGOA, I confidently say that we will be able to produce enough cotton to meet local demand to qualify for the AGOA market." African countries face not only a limited cotton supply and poor machinery. They also face problems with making cotton into fabric to produce clothing. Under AGOA, fabric is considered a raw resource that has to come from African countries instead of places like China. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.

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