Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama on Languages

Have a look at a quote Marcy Web put online on her blog.

Here is a famous quote, by then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama, from the campaign trail:

Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.

You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], “Merci beaucoup.” Right?

You know, no, I’m serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. You can be part of international business. So we should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they’re 5, or 6, or 7 than when they’re 46, like me.

Go to the blog to see more discussion and reaction.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Archived IYL Online Seminars

The sound and visuals archives of the first 2008 Year of Languages Online Seminars are available (as Adobe Connect archives). Give each a full minute to establish.

Are we entitled to be optimistic about languages education?
Joe Lo Bianco, Melbourne University, 16 April 2008

"Over-enthused and under-prepared: pre-service languages teachers in the spotlight."
Lesley Harbon, Sydney University, 14 May 2008
Accelerative Integrated Method
Oj Rugins, Jenny McKinney and Tim Girard, 11 June 2008

"Primary school languages - our primary failing."
Matthew Absalom, University of Melbourne, 26 June 2008

Australian Languages Education: What is happening at national level?"
Lia Tedesco, School of Languages, South Australia, and President of the Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA), 19 June 2008

"I absolutely believe in languages teaching but I'm not doing it anymore."
Tina, Sunshine Coast and Ella, Melbourne, 9 September 2008

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Endangered languages

When time permits we will take up again our online seminar series for languages teachers. In the meantime, have a look at this NEWSWEEK article Say it loud, say it proud. It describes a film documentary called "The Linguists," a PBS documentary airing on Feb. 26 2009 in the USA. It's about "Swarthmore professor K. David Harrison and Gregory Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute, who travel from Siberia to India to Bolivia hoping to document obscure languages before they disappear for good. As they go, it becomes clear that their mission is about more than words. Every two weeks, one of the world's 7,000 languages vanishes; most belong to indigenous communities that have been stamped out and homogenized by colonialists."

Update 10 May 2009 Lingua Franca of 9 May 2009 has the startling news that new languages are being discovered or uncovered in China even now, even as 516 of the 6909 known living languages are in danger of imminent extinction. 'New' languages 'discovered' in China Of the 83 new entries listed in the latest edition of Ethnologue, the authoritative compendium of the world's languages, 30 were 'found' in China and contributed by surveying linguists led by David Bradley of La Trobe University, Australia.