What’s new at Brilliant Publications? (24 Feb 2022 Newsletter)

Cracking English Grammar in Key Stage 2

I’m delighted to say that Cracking English Grammar in Key Stage 2 is at the printers. I’m really looking forward to seeing the printed copies towards the end of next week. The ebook version is already available on our website, if you can’t wait to receive your copy.

The book is full of fun, practical creative writing activities which help children to consolidate their knowledge of grammar. I love the examples of children’s work that David Horner has included in the book. For example, here’s a very short story, written by Mia, using alternating complex and simple sentences:

When the engines stop, everything falls silent.

    She goes to the doorway.

Silver steps go down, once the door is fully open.

    She walks out calmly.

There is a red landscape wherever she looks.

    She reaches the last step.

As soon as the signal comes, she steps down.

    She is the first woman on Mars.

David is donating all his royalties for this book (and the others he’s written for Brilliant Publications) to MedEquip4Kids, a charity which helps to improve the health of babies and children in the UK by providing hospitals with equipment not available from limited NHS resources. You can find out more about MedEquip4Kids from their website.

Are different comprehension skills needed to read non-fiction?

I was very excited to receive Kate Heap’s latest manuscript, Developing Reading Comprehension Skills Years 5-6: Non-fiction. Information texts are all around us so teaching children how to analyse and get the most out of them is so important. If you’d like to know more about this book, please email me. (We will get some information on our website soon, but it isn’t there yet!)

Why do children learn languages more effortlessly than adults?

I read a really interesting interview with Dr Eleanore Smalle, a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University and lecturer at Tilburg University (in the Netherlands). She was asked why children find it easier to learn languages than adults.

She explained that two learning systems are involved in language acquisition: an implicit (unconscious) and an explicit (conscious) memory. Young children learn language through the implicit system; in other words, they learn new language rules through passive exposure, without them being explicitly taught.

As we have been championing the teaching of foreign languages in primary schools for over 20 years (our first MFL book, C’est Français, was published in 2001), it was great to have this confirmation of their importance.    

From around the age of 12, the conscious memory system starts to develop more strongly and this means that adults outperform children in their ability to learn through explicit instruction. However, this can lead to problems when learning a new language due to interference with prior knowledge. Adults often try to adopt the linguistic rules that they already know, which sometimes contradict the new ones. This results in a less stable consolidation of the new language into memory. 

Dr Smalle suggests that an efficient way for adults to learn foreign languages could be for them to immerse themselves in the language without awareness first, for example, by listening to a podcast in a different language while carrying out another task. Their research showed that this type of unconscious exposure helps the adult brain become familiar with patterns in foreign speech, but they cautioned that they do not have evidence that it helps the acquisition of the more complex aspects of a new language, such as syntax or meaning. The hypothesis is that people who have immersed themselves in the language without awareness first, might have a head start when going to actual language classes.

You can find details of all our modern foreign language titles on our website: brilliantpublications.co.uk.

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With best wishes for next week!


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