Linguists call it “shift.” The rest of us would call it “loss.” It’s what happens to the languages spoken by immigrants, and it happens fast. By the third generation, and sometimes even the second, the German or Hindi or Greek spoken in the home is gone. That’s why America, known for so many good things, is also known as the place “where languages go to die.”
But not always.
Sometimes an immigrant family bucks the trend. This is one of those stories.*
America the Bilingual is a storytelling podcast for Americans who are learning another language, or would like to start. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts and hear a new episode every two weeks. (If you use Twitter, I’ll let you know about future episodes there as well.)
A big “Bravo!” to America’s language teachers. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages — their acronym ACTFL (pronounced ACT-Full) is fitting. Its Lead with Languages campaign encourages bilingualism for all.
This episode was written by me, Steve Leveen, and our producer Fernando Hernández, who also does sound design and mixing. Our editorial consultants are Maja Thomas and Mim Harrison, research assistance from Alma Flores-Perez.
Special thanks to Rev. Dr. James Katinas for letting us record in the sound studio of the Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Thanks as well to Greek Language School Director, Dr. Stavroula Christodoulou, the teachers of the St. Demetrios Greek School, and to Anastasia Kastrenakes Merkel for sharing her recording of the Chants of the Fathers of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou Mount Athos.