August 2018

“Talking Leaves” The Cherokee Syllabary of Sequoyah

2019-12-17T14:03:05-05:00By |Articles|

Editor’s note: Be sure to listen to our podcast on saving the Cherokee language—Episode 30 of America the Bilingual, “A New Generation of Cherokee Speakers Rises.” When is an alphabet not an alphabet? When it is the syllabary of the Cherokee language. A Cherokee named Sequoyah invented it in 1821. He had seen non-Native soldiers reading from what he called “talking leaves”—words on paper—and was determined to find a way for the Cherokee to do the same. Sequoyah (ca. 1776 – ca. 1843) was used to making tools for his work as both a blacksmith and [...]

July 2018

‘On the Other Side of the Curtain’: Jean Kwok’s Bestselling Novels Reveal What It Means to Live in Other Languages

2020-01-21T10:35:20-05:00By |Articles|

Since her debut novel, Girl in Translation (which was translated into 16 languages), Jean Kwok has earned the coveted status of international bestselling author. Her newest work, Searching for Sylvie Lee, is a Today Show Book Club pick and earned Jean another spot on the New York Times bestseller list. It comes with a list of encomiums as long as a kite string: O Magazine, Buzzfeed, the Washington Post, CNN, Time, Newsweek, and more. Language plays a key role in all of Jean’s fiction, and together with reading, it has been central to Jean’s own [...]

February 2018

Jackie Kennedy’s Prowess as a Polygot

2020-01-15T17:33:38-05:00By |Articles|

When President John F. Kennedy traveled to West Berlin on June 26, 1963, he wanted to assure the people there—who were literally walled off from the eastern portion of their city by Communist Russia—that Americans stood with them. Ever the classicist, Kennedy drew from the ancient Romans’ statement of Civis Romanus sum “I am a citizen of Rome.” He wanted to convey that same spirit, but in German:Ich bin ein Berliner. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy speaks—in Spanish—to leaders of the 2506 Cuban Invasion Brigade at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, where she delivered her speech—in [...]

January 2018

Our Towns: A book, a journey, and an often-surprising view of multicultural America

2020-01-15T17:30:12-05:00By |Articles|

To talk of bilingualism in America is to speak about more than just language. Our not-so-secret wish at America the Bilingual is that aspiring to be bilingual will inspire an appreciation for those who have come to this country from elsewhere, and with other languages. They are following the lodestar that has long shaped America’s history. They’ve come to make their lives here, raise their families, help build—literally and otherwise—their communities. Yet if you rely on just national news to know how we’re all getting along with one another in our communities, you might conclude [...]

Can Bicycles Make Us Bilingual?

2020-01-15T17:28:52-05:00By |Articles|

YES, say four researchers from universities in China, Thailand and Italy. More precisely, the study they conducted on Chinese university students in the throes of learning beginner-level English showed that the students who studied while pedaling stationary bikes did significantly better than their counterparts who studied while merely stationary, sitting at their desks. Wheel of linguistic fortune What’s more, the researchers reported, “effects were present even when tested after a month.” Along the lines of the adage about how you never forget how to ride a bike once you learn, the “bicycling bilinguals” of the study [...]

Other Tongue: Writers Who Write in a Language Not Their Own

2020-01-15T17:36:10-05:00By |Articles|

Most writers will tell you that it's challenging enough to write well in their native language, let alone attempting it in another. Yet a number of well-known authors have done just that, in many cases writing not only well but brilliantly, in a language that was not their first. There's a name for these writers: exophonic. The word derives from Greek–exo in Greek means "outside"; phonic means "voice." The University of Warwick in the United Kingdom even offers a course on it, called "Exophony, or Writing Beyond the Mother Tongue." One for the Russian road Vladimir Nabokov [...]

’Tis the season to speak German: Thank Deutsche for some of our best-loved Christmas carols

2020-01-06T10:13:25-05:00By |Articles|

If you celebrate Christmas, come December, you might begin to experience what the Germans call Vorfreude: joyful anticipation. Vor roughly translates to “before” or “in front,” and freude, to “pleasure” or “joy.” Even for those of us not lucky enough to speak German, we know how to sing it—after a fashion—at Christmastime, in joyful anticipation of December 25. Some of the best-known Christmas carols have their origins in German. Here are four that you may know. A Christmas tree on the Potsdamer Platz (Sony Center) in Berlin, Germany. (Wikimedia Commons) [...]

December 2017

Podcast Index for Teachers, Parents and School Superintendents

2019-12-17T13:55:05-05:00By |Articles|

Here's an index of podcasts by subject matter for teachers, parents and school administrators. Dual Immersion—for those interested in the benefits of teaching languages in the elementary schools Episode 24         Dual-Language Education, Report #1: The Revolution Begins Episode 25         Dual-Language Education, Report #2: Winds of Change Go-To for Teachers—encouragement and ideas Episode 12          Eastern Star: The Nick Staffa story Episode 17          When a gap year becomes a bridge year Episode 18          Bill Weir Loves Language Teachers— Wishes He Had Listened to His Validators for Language Students—for students wondering if language learning is worth it Episode [...]

November 2017

Steve Leveen’s Response in the WSJ

2019-09-06T14:17:31-04:00By |Articles|

  Ed. Note: A July 16, 2017 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal maintained that “fluency in coding is a more useful skill than French, Spanish or Russian.” Steve disagrees! Here is his letter to the editor that was published in the July 25th print edition of the Journal. The world is not headed toward one language. The fact that we see signs in English around the world doesn’t mean the Japanese or Chinese or Egyptians are abandoning their native languages. Rather, they are learning English and becoming bilingual. The U.S., on the other hand, is [...]

How We Made It: From AIRdaily to airwaves

2019-09-06T14:17:37-04:00By |Articles|

Ed. Note: The AIRdaily, an online forum for podcasters, recently ran this story on Steve and Fernando.  Florida-based AIR producer and retired CEO-turned-podcaster Steve Leveen brought his pitch to the AIRdaily in early January 2017 with hopes of finding a producer to help bring sound to his idea. Independent audio-maker Fernando Hernández answered that call from the other side of the country, and the podcast America the Bilingual began its journey to becoming sound waves. Four months later, their first episode was published. Now six months into the collaboration, Leveen and Hernández share their experience in a Q&A [...]

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