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 […]

Heritage languages

Tweet Diversity is often just a concept. Many people live in a diverse town, yet never visit the “foreign” parts of it. Students can be members of a diverse class, yet never come into contact with the parts of their peers’ lives that reflect their different backgrounds.  Students with an Italian background, for example, often […]

Steven Pinker Interview

Tweet An interview with Steven Pinker on the nature of language, and the window it provides into the human psyche and mind, is available on The New York times website.  It would be an interesting short video to show to classes.

Wampanoag Comes Home for Thanksgiving

Tweet Wampanoag is the language of the tribe that coexisted with the Pilgrims. Their language disappeared in the 19th century, but has recently been reconstructed by a Wampanoag woman, Annie “Little Doe” Baird, who won a MacArthur “genius” Award for her work.  A whole fascinating article can be found here. A film about  Baird and the […]

The End of English?

Tweet Below is a comment I sent in response to a post on Professor Dennis Baron’s ever-interesting blog, The Web of Language. In this post, he suggests that English may be on its way out.  It’s a bit far-fetched at this moment, at our apogee (or slightly post-apogee), but worth considering.  The level of discourse, […]


Tweet I teach two types of classes:  students from varying international backgrounds, mostly children of immigrants, at Montclair State University; and international students who have one week to orient themselves before beginning their university studies at Stevens Institute of Technology; this year, they are mostly from China and Malaysia, with one student from Saudi Arabia, […]

Raising bilingual babies

Tweet Some of my friends are raising their children bilingual.  One couple of lives in Austria — the father is Austrian, the mother is Czech.  Another lives in Washington DC — the father is American, the mother is German.  The couples speak both languages at home, but they also take their children back to the […]