February 2023

60. Crossing the Borderlands

2023-02-01T14:04:08-05:00By |Episodes|

Episode 60. Crossing the Borderlands of America's Immigration Brenda Piñero “I do consider Puerto Rico a borderland of the United States,” says Brenda Piñero of her homeland. Brenda left the island—an American territory rather than a state—after getting her law degree at the University of Puerto Rico. But she could not stay away from borderlands. She’s now an attorney who is part of a pro bono asylum representation project based in Harlingen, Texas. The border with Mexico is a scant 28 miles away. Brenda works [...]

March 2022

Six More Spanish Words English Should Adopt

2023-03-10T10:35:43-05:00By |Articles|

English is already well seasoned with Spanish. Not just place names like Colorado and Florida, and not just food words like tacos and enchiladas, but also nouns so firmly established in English that we need no synonyms—nouns like canyon, silo, plaza and rodeo. Yet we could use some more—specifically, six more Spanish words that may serve to strengthen family ties, and for which no English equivalents exist. There’s a name for us I encountered the first of these family-member words from author Joseph Keenan in his book, Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish, which I recently discovered. [...]

November 2017

18. Bill Weir Loves Language Teachers — Wishes He had Listened to His

2017-11-30T20:22:00-05:00By |Episodes|

Bill Weir Loves Language Teachers — Wishes He Had Listened to His Bill Weir, travel correspondent and host of CNN Wonder List, has his dream job. He gets to jet all over the world to capture images and weave stories together from what he finds. It’s all perfect, except for one thing — Bill is monolingual. Steve Leveen interviews Bill Weir: “I kick myself…” “I wish I could travel back in time and punch my teenage self in the face for not paying attention. I was one of those horrible language students who didn’t figure I would ever need [...]

October 2017

16. Bless the Late-Blooming Bilinguals

2017-12-11T17:05:21-05:00By |Episodes|

Bless the Late-Blooming Bilinguals When older adults learn another language, they don’t have the advantages of toddlers, whose minds are wired to learn two or three languages simultaneously. Nor do they have the flexibility of young adults who can acquire a native-sounding accent. But this episode of America the Bilingual tells the story of adults who deploy other abilities that come with age and experience. Late-blooming bilinguals are not only capable of learning languages, but capable also of combining their language skills with a measure of wisdom in order to deliver great blessings to others. [...]

August 2017

10. The Joy of Spanish

2018-05-21T12:47:17-04:00By |Episodes|

The Joy of Speaking Spanish Twenty-five percent of American Latinos don’t speak Spanish, because they can’t. The erosion of Spanish and other heritage languages will continue to be make it challenging for the United States to build its international language capital (see Episode 9). On the positive side, an estimated 2.8 million non-Latinos speak Spanish. I aim to be one of them. Martha Gonzalez, Age 16, Grandmother of Mario Bravo For almost 10 years I’ve been studying the language, and while my progress has been embarrassingly slow, I am falling ever more deeply in love [...]

July 2017

8. American Outliers

2017-12-05T19:42:22-05:00By |Episodes|

American Outliers America has been called the place where languages go to die. But not always. In episode 8 of America the Bilingual we hear the story of two American immigrants and their intrepid sons. What the sons did leaps out when set against the landscape of the more usual American study-abroad experience. Listen on iTunes by clicking here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen on iTunes Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen for free Listen to this SoundCloud episode below:  America the Bilingual by Steve [...]

June 2017

7. The Bella and the Bold

2017-12-05T19:25:23-05:00By |Episodes|

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 Listen on iTunes by clicking here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen on iTunes Download past episodes or subscribe to [...]

6. Little Ketchup Girl

2017-12-05T19:15:37-05:00By |Episodes|

Little Ketchup Girl How hard can it be to go up to the counter at McDonald’s and ask for ketchup? The answer might depend on how confident you are in English. Michelle Bazargan was a little girl when bombs began exploding outside her home in Tehran. It was then that her mother decided it was too dangerous to remain. Thus begins the story of one Iranian family and their challenges of becoming American. Sometimes trauma can leave people irreversibly damaged. Other times trauma can leave people irreversibly dedicated to helping others. Listen to episode 6 of [...]

May 2017

5. The CEO and the Polyglot

2017-12-05T19:24:20-05:00By |Episodes|

The CEO and the Polyglot Does the whole world speak English? It seems so when you travel to big cities and stay in major hotels. It seems so when you visit popular tourist destinations. But what about in corporate conference rooms? Like when you’re trying to sell something? That, as you’ll hear in this episode, can be a different story. Lois Melbourne Lois Melbourne studied French in school but didn’t get all that far. In other words, she is a typical monolingual American. But Lois is not typical in other ways. Andrew Simmons is [...]

February 2017

4. Mother Tongue

2017-12-05T19:24:32-05:00By |Episodes|

Mother Tongue We hear it before we are born. Before the first air rushes into our tiny lungs, before the first light refracts into our blinking, baby eyes, our mother tongue is already resident, dreamlike in our waiting minds. In America, the mother tongue for most of us is English. But for millions of us baby Americans, those comforting vibrations our mothers pour over us have other names, like Spanish or Portuguese or Mandarin. Bilingual mothers have a choice to make. Sometimes they chose their own mother tongue to speak to their babies. Other times they [...]

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