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Posted by Benjamin Mako Hill

I recently published a paper with Sayamindu Dasgupta that provides evidence in support of the idea that kids can learn to code more quickly when they are programming in their own language.

Millions of young people from around the world are learning to code. Often, during their learning experiences, these youth are using visual block-based programming languages like Scratch, App Inventor, and Code.org Studio. In block-based programming languages, coders manipulate visual, snap-together blocks that represent code constructs instead of textual symbols and commands that are found in more traditional programming languages.

The textual symbols used in nearly all non-block-based programming languages are drawn from English—consider “if” statements and “for” loops for common examples. Keywords in block-based languages, on the other hand, are often translated into different human languages. For example, depending on the language preference of the user, an identical set of computing instructions in Scratch can be represented in many different human languages:

Examples of a short piece of Scratch code shown in four different human languages: English, Italian, Norwegian Bokmål, and German.

Although my research with Sayamindu Dasgupta focuses on learning, both Sayamindu and I worked on local language technologies before coming back to academia. As a result, we were both interested in how the increasing translation of programming languages might be making it easier for non-English speaking kids to learn to code.

After all, a large body of education research has shown that early-stage education is more effective when instruction is in the language that the learner speaks at home. Based on this research, we hypothesized that children learning to code with block-based programming languages translated to their mother-tongues will have better learning outcomes than children using the blocks in English.

We sought to test this hypothesis in Scratch, an informal learning community built around a block-based programming language. We were helped by the fact that Scratch is translated into many languages and has a large number of learners from around the world.

To measure learning, we built on some of our our own previous work and looked at learners’ cumulative block repertoires—similar to a code vocabulary. By observing a learner’s cumulative block repertoire over time, we can measure how quickly their code vocabulary is growing.

Using this data, we compared the rate of growth of cumulative block repertoire between learners from non-English speaking countries using Scratch in English to learners from the same countries using Scratch in their local language. To identify non-English speakers, we considered Scratch users who reported themselves as coming from five primarily non-English speaking countries: Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Germany, and Norway. We chose these five countries because they each have one very widely spoken language that is not English and because Scratch is almost fully translated into that language.

Even after controlling for a number of factors like social engagement on the Scratch website, user productivity, and time spent on projects, we found that learners from these countries who use Scratch in their local language have a higher rate of cumulative block repertoire growth than their counterparts using Scratch in English. This faster growth was despite having a lower initial block repertoire. The graph below visualizes our results for two “prototypical” learners who start with the same initial block repertoire: one learner who uses the English interface, and a second learner who uses their native language.

Summary of the results of our model for two prototypical individuals.

Our results are in line with what theories of education have to say about learning in one’s own language. Our findings also represent good news for designers of block-based programming languages who have spent considerable amounts of effort in making their programming languages translatable. It’s also good news for the volunteers who have spent many hours translating blocks and user interfaces.

Although we find support for our hypothesis, we should stress that our findings are both limited and incomplete. For example, because we focus on estimating the differences between Scratch learners, our comparisons are between kids who all managed to successfully use Scratch. Before Scratch was translated, kids with little working knowledge of English or the Latin script might not have been able to use Scratch at all. Because of translation, many of these children are now able to learn to code.


This blog post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project with Sayamindu Dasgupta. Sayamindu also published a very similar version of the blog post in several places. Our paper is open access and you can read it here. The paper was published in the proceedings of the ACM Learning @ Scale Conference. We also recently gave a talk about this work at the International Communication Association’s annual conference. We received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Nathan TeBlunthuis at the University of Washington. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation.

The exgf's cats meet Fig

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:42 pm
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[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Ibid has a ... troubled history with Nigel so we're holding off on that.

No histrionics but somehow Rufus established himself as a cat Fig needs not to annoy, whereas Nigel is someone Fig will happily follow around.

Also, Fig made himself sick eating daisies, then tried to eat one again.
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[personal profile] xiphmont

[me, pulling into parking lot, looking around for an open house at a makerspace I've not been to]

Yeah, I think this might be the place.

(Thanks Mike for letting me sit in your DeLorean :-)

Two (and a half) for the price of one

Jun. 26th, 2017 09:09 pm
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[personal profile] student_of_impossibility posting in [community profile] milliways_bar
Tavi loves Cubefall.

He has always loved Cubefall, he will always love Cubefall, he will teach his children to love Cubefall. There are construction toys like he'd never seen in Alera, which can do so many amazing things, and he teaches himself about robots and circuits whenever it happens. Cubefall is like being a child again.

(Except for that time he used Cubefall to do some strategic planning for the battlefield. Lego figurines are useful!)

But he admits to himself with some resignation that, with a two-month-old baby in arms, he probably shouldn't be playing with easily swallowable toys. (He also quite thoroughly ignores the screens, because he's busy being a father at the moment.) Luckily, the waitrats very considerately show him to where there are some nice, big construction toys, safe for an infant to be around while his father gets some relaxing play in.

Tavi is so delighted getting to start sharing this with his baby boy--even if Desiderius really isn't actually participating. Still. Baby's First Cubefall.

--

Meanwhile, R2-D2 is conversing quite happily with a waitrat. He is entirely happy with this place and its holiday, although he does appear to have opted out of a transformation. He's an astromech and maybe one day he'll be exasperated enough to try something new, but It Is Not This Day. Still, he is quite happy to help people find the toys they want to play with or even help with building as much as his capabilities allow.

This is a great holiday.

OBGYN Visit #2 (of 3? 4?)

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:52 pm
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[personal profile] everchangingmuse
In the quest to make my uterus stop hurting me every month, I went back to the OBGYN's office today for an ultrasound, a biopsy, and confirmation of the birth control/hormone regulation path I wanted to take.

cut for details of medical procedures )

So now, it's the waiting game. Again. I just want my periods to go away.

Sign-ups

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:53 pm
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[personal profile] evil_plotbunny posting in [community profile] fic_corner
Sign ups are due to end in 48 hours. What time is that for me?

I'm a little worried because we're currently under 20 sign-ups and I'm not sure if we're going to get enough to make matching possible. Hopefully everyone's waiting till the last minute. Hopefully everyone's waiting till the last minute. Tell your friends, tell your enemies. Encourage them to sign up!
[syndicated profile] jobloemporium_feed
There were always rumblings of a third HELLBOY movie which would close off the trilogy, but sadly, it was not to be. After keeping that faint flicker of hope alive for years, HELLBOY director Guillermo del Toro recently organized a sit-down with Ron Perlman and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola to discuss what could be done to make the project a reality, but sadly, it just wound up driving the...
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[syndicated profile] jobloemporium_feed
Even as someone who discovered Rick and Morty for the first time just last year, the wait for the third season of the brilliant animated comedy series has been frustratingly long, but, like all good things, I'm perfectly willing to wait. Even after the surprise April Fool's Day airing of the premiere episode, Rick and Morty's third season still doesn't have an official release...
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a different day

Jun. 26th, 2017 05:33 pm
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[personal profile] alatefeline
Today we went hiking. (Me, sib, mom, dad - our fourfold knot in the family web.)

Aunt needed some space. Her mom is over there taking care of cousin. We'll see them tomorrow.

We hiked up to the top of the ridge, added stones to a cairn, and said a few words.

My aunt on my mom's side and one of her grown sons, my oldest cousin, met us for dinner at the lodge, and we talked.

The woods here are so lovely--

Dear Fic Corner Scribbler,

Jun. 26th, 2017 08:10 pm
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[personal profile] alixtii
I made my character requests based on the fact that the exchange is set up to match ANY, not ALL to increase odds of matching--i.e. I requested all the characters I nominated, because I'd be interested in seeing any combination of them in a fic. Sometimes a couple of characters are associated with one possible prompt, while the others are associated with a different one. I don't expect, and the rules don't require, you to include all of them in the same fic (although of course you are free to do so).

That said, I like female characters being awesome (which can take many different forms!) and having agency; I like femslash and female friendship; I like fluff and darkfic and pretty much everything in between. I like gen and porn with plot and pretty much everything in between. I like polyamory where the women outnumber the men. I'm fine with character death, BDSM, mpreg, chan, noncon, dubcon, incest, and cross-gen. I don't mind experimental uses of tense, POV, or story structure or formatting. I have few squicks and no triggers. Feel free to twist or subvert the canons without worrying you'll be ruining my childhood. I promise you, you won't be.

The Squad - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I was pimped into this fandom by [personal profile] fox1013 and you can read my original squeeful reactions to the first book here. I ILL'd the books at first but now own both of the audiobooks narrated by Amanda Ronconi.

I love all the characters I nominated (and most of the ones I didn't) and any chance to spend some time with them would be great. Femslash would be great, especially Toby/Chloe, Toby/Tara, or Brittany/Tiffany, because let's face it, part of the appeal (at least for me) is all of the homoerotic overtones between the cheerleader spies. I'm also interested in het involving Noah, either Noah/Lucy or Noah/Brittany/Tiffany, especially from Toby's POV (although from the POV of one of the other squad members would be interesting, too).

Maybe Toby could have Tara over for dinner, only to find out that Noah has also invited Lucy? I'd love to see the Klein parents get involved too.

If you want to do something more plotty or action-adventurey, that's fine too, as long as there's still a large character-driven element, even if it's not romantic in nature.

The only thing I'm really not interested in is het involving Toby or anything involving Jack Peyton.

Die unendliche Geschichte | The Neverending Story - Michael Ende

I half a bunch of half-formed ideas which could potentially serve as prompts. I'd be thrilled if you took none, one, or more than one of these ideas and ran with them.

I'm interested in the theodicy of Phantásien/Fantasia/Fantastica. What does the Empress think of Xayide and her battle? How do these two interact with each other when they meet? Femslash, whether hatesex or something with more complicated power dynamics, would be awesome here, but so would thoughtful gen.

I'm also interested in Bastian after his return to reality. We know that Gmork has the ability to pass between worlds; what if he was recreated when the rest of Phantásien was, and encounters Bastian in the real world? Would he try to destroy Phantásien working from the real world this time, perhaps by destroying The Neverending Story itself? (Is there more than one copy of The Neverending Story in existence? If so, does Gmork know this? Does Bastian? Does Koreander/Coreander?)

The Ende novel was published in 1979, which would make Bastian about 50 today. What would Bastian (and/or Koreander, if he is still alive) think of a world of smart phones and e-books and AO3 and Netflix? Does Koreander's Old Books still exist, perhaps run by Bastian? Is it struggling to stay afloat? How do they respond to the teens of today, or even older Millennials?

I'm also interested in Bastian's friend Christa, to whom he would tell stories before she left for boarding school. What happens when they meet again after his return from Phantásien? Does he tell her about it? How does she respond? Do they enter into a romantic relationship when they get older? (Alternately, I could see her daughter potentially acting as a viewpoint character if you choose to go with the "50-year-old Bastian in 2017" prompt.)

Gallagher Girls Series - Ally Carter

Either Cameron/Josh, or else any femslash pairing involving the core four girls. Please no Cameron/Zach, and I don't really care about Abby/Edward (although I don't object to it).

If you want to go the het route, what if Cameron and Amirah ran into Josh after they escape from the Academy in the final book, and they had to rely on him helping them to hide from the Circle?

As for femslash, any romance in which two or more of the girls get together would be great. Or else go established relationship in which Presidential candidate James McHenry finds out that his daughter's girlfriend is actually there to give him his CIA briefing. (Liz would probably make the most sense, since she's the analyst, but feel free to play with the concept to make it work for you.)

Escape to Witch Mountain - Alexander Key

Tia and Tony, either as a twincest pairing or as a deeply cathective platonic sibling relationship. Any point during (or before or after) canon, or diverging from canon, is fine.
cpt_kirk: <user name=cpt_kirk> (rm: your words are rich)
[personal profile] cpt_kirk posting in [community profile] fandom_icons
I've made some icons, and since some of them are Harry Potter icons, I figured what better day to post them than Harry Potter day?

10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
8 Kingsman: The Secret Service
7 Star Trek Beyond

Preview:
 photo 04_zpsogmeuh9f.png  photo HP 05_zps17njaybi.png  photo STB 03_zps8bvozv8k.png

Icons Can Be Found Here @ [personal profile] cpt_kirk
[syndicated profile] fandomgrammar_feed

Posted by randi2204

Welcome to another Monday, and another Say What?. As much as we try to complete things in an expedient fashion, sometimes the evil of procrastination takes hold and we’re left scrambling at the last minute. Therefore, without delay, we’ll be looking at never put off until tomorrow what you can do today and procrastination is the thief of time, with some timely help from the characters of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s.

I'll get around to it... eventually.
[syndicated profile] jobloemporium_feed
The works of Stephen King have filled the world with countless tales of terror and memorable stories, some of which even cross over in a variety of different ways, including taking place in or mentioning the fictional Maine town of Castle Rock. That location will be the setting of a new anthology horror series titled Castle Rock brought to us by J.J. Abrams and Stephen King himself. According to...
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I Puzzled

Jun. 26th, 2017 07:15 pm
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[personal profile] cafeshree
I bought a few more puzzles over the weekend and did one yesterday and today after work. It was a nice way to chill.

I'll try to hold out till this weekend to start another. Need to make them last.

Joy of joys a 4 day weekend coming up, because July4 is on Tues., due to some boss or town manipulations we will also be closed Mon. That's never happened before.