The Bella and the Bold

Bettina Young had a remarkable young life — a fairy tale life by the standard of so many American girls who dream of becoming ballet dancers and models. But the path to living happily-ever-after took some sharp turns. The constant, through thick and thin, was this young American’s boldness. Bettina’s story left me wondering whether living bilingually and living boldly have a natural relationship.

Bettina Michele at nine years old in a ballet tutu and pose

Bettina Michele at nine years old

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America the Bilingual is a storytelling podcast dedicated to all who are learning another language. We envision an America where it is normal to be bilingual.

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.)

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Front page of the Starbene french magazine cover

A message for parents of young children

When my wife, Lori, and I had our two sons, we dreamed of taking them to live in another country so that we could become fully bilingual as a family.

But our business was growing, the boys were busy in school and summer camp. Their grandparents, aunts and uncles loved having them around. Life was good, so maybe next year, and then next year, and suddenly our boys were off to college. While we did travel with them, we did not give our boys The Gift of bilingualism. I’m in awe of parents like Bettina and Greg who did choose the bolder path, which in the end, has such sweet rewards.

If you know some families with school age children — you might pass this episode on to them. Who knows what might happen?

The Young Family

The Young Family


American the Bilingual is part of the Lead with Languages campaign of ACTFL — The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

This episode was written by me, Steve Leveen, and our producer Fernando Hernández, who also does sound design and mixing. Associate producer is Beckie Rankin. Editorial consultants are Mim Harrison and Maja Thomas. Graphic arts are created by Carlos Plaza Design Studio.

Music in this episode, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License, by by Kevin Macleod, Francisco Penilla, Lloyd Rogers with the Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra, Komiku and Lee Rosevere. All thanks to the Free Music Archive directed by WFMU. The tape of Bettina’s daughter is a re-enactment. (How we wish we could have gotten our hands on the original recording!)

Kevin Macleod — Quasi motion

Francisco Penilla — Chicle bombita

Lloyd Rogers, with the Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra — Golden riddles, echoes and points (act II)

Lloyd Rogers, with the Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra — Gifts of stars

Komiku — Fouler L’horizon

Lee Rosevere — New DayExpectations and More on that later