The Spanish Lesson I Never Got at School – The New York Times

This is a great piece by Héctor Tobar, a Journalism professor at the University of Oregon.  By telling a personal story about his growing up in Los Angeles and the effect that had and interweaving some education policy talk, Tobar illustrates the important connection between bilingualism and political power.  Policies like the one in effect until recently in California literally silence minority communities.

This is part of the broader picture I’m beginning to see of bilingualism as a type of resistance that is radical in its unifying power and transgressive in its rejection of dominant culture.  Of course, in my local situation, in Japan, the power structure is turned upside-down.  So, my struggle, strangely enough is teaching my children English against the background of Japanese majority culture and language.  But, of course, globally, Western European (White), colonial, English-speaking is the giant.  I suppose everywhere you go will have its own unique language situation with various kinds and levels of dominance and resistance being played out.  In North America its pretty much English versus all-comers.  And this California law is recognition of the diversity of the United States and a victory for what might be called linguistic justice.

Source: The Spanish Lesson I Never Got at School – The New York Times

Guest Post: What I’ve Learned From My First Two Years of Bilingual Parenting – Bilingual Monkeys

When I first came across Bilingual Monkeys, I didn’t know it yet, but it was the beginning of my efforts to pay a lot closer attention to my son’s language learning.  This is a short reflection I wrote for that blog.  Thanks as always to Adam Beck for his editorial support and for maintaining such a cool website.

Source: Guest Post: What I’ve Learned From My First Two Years of Bilingual Parenting – Bilingual Monkeys

Podcast Episode 36: But WHY!!! Would You Learn a Language? by Fluent Language

A feedback question from James led us to discussing why we chose the languages we are learning right now.

From the email announcement about this podcast episode:

Do you think you’re a crazy person for learning a language?
Do you ever get asked why you would possibly spend your time doing this?
If you’re learning a language and you “don’t have to”, other people think you’re nuts.
Yep, totally bananas. And when you’re busy as hell and trying to sneak in 5 minutes of flashcards at the supermarket till, you may feel tempted to agree.
But I don’t think you’re crazy. I know how it feels when you first speak to someone in their own language and have genuinely made their day. It’s unbeatable to have that conversation in another language. It’s probably as close to space travel as most of us will come.

***

Interesting podcast and blog, which I have recently begun cluing into when a topic strikes my fancy.  Something about the comparison between language learning and space travel (the transcendent perspective both activities promise perhaps) really struck a chord with me.  From when I was very little up until I went to college I fantasized about space travel a lot, and even very seriously (to the point of visiting NASA headquarters in Washington D.C., my senior year of high school) considered pursuing a space-related career.  Eventually, through the tough reality checks provided by my undergraduate education, however, I eventually landed on English and Linguistics as a course of study.

Am I just a BAD POLYMATH?  How far do my abilities actually go to support my interests in these seemingly disparate subjects.  Or is there some kernel of who I am that has subconsciously been pursuing a common thread all along this winding educational path.  If so, what is that common thread exactly?  And what if anything does this reflective exercise I am engaged in mean for me now, as an EFL teacher, and bilingual parent?

In any event I was happy to come across this beautiful comparison between language and space travel because, on the surface at least, it seems to tie up several of my loose ends.  I have a lot of loose ends at the moment.

 

Source: Podcast Episode 36: But WHY!!! Would You Learn a Language? by Fluent Language

Bilingual Travelers: Wedding Bells and a Bilingual Boost in the United States – Bilingual Monkeys

My son, Oliver, was born in a suburb of Hiroshima, Japan in the fall of 2013 while I was still busy wrapping up my masters degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  This is the story of our second trip back to my hometown, Asheville, North Carolina.  Published on the great bilingualism blog, Bilingual Monkeys.

Source: Bilingual Travelers: Wedding Bells and a Bilingual Boost in the United States – Bilingual Monkeys

Why Raising a Bilingual Child Matters in a World Gone Mad – Bilingual Monkeys

From the horror of Hiroshima to the terror of Paris, the world is mad. It’s hard to imagine that this madness can ever really be overcome, at least not until the human mind evolves into a higher state of health and wisdom. But where does that leave us now, in these violent times?

Source: Why Raising a Bilingual Child Matters in a World Gone Mad – Bilingual Monkeys

Bilingual Children and Distant Grandparents: What We’ve Done – Bilingual Monkeys

Sometimes I face this argument: Your children can always learn the minority language later. Why focus so much on fostering this language now? Strictly speaking, this is true: children can indeed learn a second (or additional) language at an older age, given suitable circumstances. But this argument …

Source: Bilingual Children and Distant Grandparents: What We’ve Done – Bilingual Monkeys