Rapping in Sami

Tweet Sami is a language spoken by about 20,000 people around the Arctic Circle.  Santa Claus would bark out his orders to his reindeer in Sami. Such languages are fast disappearing, and only local energy and devotion can keep them alive, supported by enlightened language policies. Why it is in our interest to keep these […]

Problems with multilingualism

Tweet Karina is from Prague and spoke Czech in her family growing up. She attended high school in Frankfurt and speaks accent-free German. She now lives in Vienna and she and her husband are raising their children bilingual – Czech and German.  She spent her junior high school year in Maine and speaks almost perfect […]

Teaching pronunciation

Tweet I am teaching a class of Chinese students (plus one Saudi Arabian and one Iranian).  They are graduate students who have all studied English for many years, and perhaps were under the impression that they spoke English when they arrived on our shores. They were rudely greeted by professors who gave incomprehensible lectures, and […]

Food as a cultural marker

Tweet My friend Lillian is a Chinese-American chef who has been living in China for the past few years. She has seen more of the country than most native Chinese as she has traveled from restaurant to restaurant, market to market, farm to farm, tea plantation to tea plantation. She is planning to write a […]

Italian university decides to teach all classes in English

Tweet The Politecnico University in Milano, Italy, has decided that it will teach all of its classes in English.  As you might imagine, this has caused controversy. As European (and other) universities attract a student body from various countries, there is something of a trend to teach classes in English.  Montclair State University, for example, […]

Bilingualism makes us smarter longer

Tweet An article in The New York Times today makes the case that not only does bilingualism make us smarter as children, it also wards off mental deterioration in older people. I might add my own two cents on this subject. There is no time in life when bilingualism is anything less than a great bonus […]

Area X: The Genes of song

Tweet I learned something new today — yes, our genetic makeup influences how we  behave, but our behavior also changes or enhances our genetic makeup.  It’s a two-way street. That is somehow hopeful. As reported in the journal Neuron, a UCLA team of researchers “discovered that some 2,000 genes in a region of the male zebra […]

Linguapax Award

Tweet Do you know there is an “International Mother Language Day?”  It’s today, February 21st. It is sponsored by Linguapax, a non-governmental organization supporting linguistic diversity, in the belief that “…essential vehicles of identity and cultural expression are inseparable from the goals peace and intercultural understanding.” The Linguapax Award for 2012 is being given to: […]

Goals and Motivation in Second/Third… Language Learning

Tweet This is a guest post from Rebekah Palmer ( Cross fertilization of ideas amplifies the abilities of all of us. If any of my readers have experiences or suggestions, please feel free to share them. As educators, we often talk about goal setting. We set long-term goals for courses and short-term lesson objectives. We […]

Whence English?

Tweet Perhaps you have heard of “World English.” This is not a single language, but a concatenation of versions of English, as spoken in America, England, Australia, southern Africa, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan and neighbors, Hong Kong, Belize — all over the world.  Each version is different in vocabulary, accent, and sometimes in syntax. Standard […]