Archivo de la categoría: Lenguas por el Planeta

Can You Imagine?

John Lennon – Imagine / UNICEF

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Multilingualism in Britain

helloWhat does it mean to be bilingual?

Bilingualism is the ability to use two languages with equal fluency, and to sound like a native in both. Young children are naturally designed to acquire what ever language(s) they are regularly exposed to. Although adults can study a second language to a high, even fluent, standard, they rarely manage to avoid a foreign accent. That’s why true bilingualism has to start early in life – and why you don’t need to be ‘good at languages’ to be bilingual.

The language you speak is closely bound up with your sense of identity, and how you view the world: being bilingual can make you feel at home in a wider set of social situations, and can give you two slightly different ways of looking at things.Even where two languages are quite similar and you can function perfectly in either of them, things feel different in different languages. Robin puts it like this: “I feel a slightly different person speaking (or thinking) German than English – like everything’s slightly more focussed.”It’s rare to come across people who are not glad to be bilingual. Letizia in West London says that her children “are very proud to be half English and half Mexican and to be able to speak two languages.”Web reader Sandra sees practical benefits too: “I’m quite proud of being able to speak and understand Polish, as I know it will help in the future – now that Poland are part of the EU, maybe more people will learn it.”Speaking two languages is thought to increase cognitive abilities. In other words, bilingual children often get better marks! Bilinguals are more employable, and earn more on average than monolinguals. They’re even healthier in old age! A study at the University of York in Canada in 2004 suggested that speaking two languages can help keep you mentally agile. Bilingual volunteers had faster reaction times than their monolingual counterparts and were less likely to suffer from mental decline in old age.Bethan from Llanrug believes that bilingualism for its own sake is positive: “Children who are raised in a bilingual household are proven to do better at school as well as being more tolerant of diversity and minorities. In today’s climate this can only be a good thing.”New parents who are considering bringing their offspring up to be bilingual will find plenty of information and advice on the internet. The excellent Nethelp site contains a wealth of invaluable personal experience and handbag.com has a guide to the different approaches.If you’re only fluent in one language and are feeling jealous, don’t despair. You don’t have to be fully bilingual to feel the benefits of a second language. Harpal Singh from Glasgow was inspired to learn Gaelic by the late Radio Scotland presenter, Ali Abbasi: “Learning Gaelic makes me feel more Scottish and I recommend that everybody at least tries to pick up a few words. Tapadh leibh!”

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/voices/yourvoice/multilingualism.shtml

Are we really a multilingual nation?

You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but the British Isles are home to over 350 languages. Some of them, such as English, Irish and Manx, originated here; most of them began elsewhere and have arrived through migration.

While most speakers of other languages also speak English, some do not. We’re lacking concrete statistics about language use, but according to one 2001 estimate, one and a half million people in the UK do not speak enough English to be employable. It’s very hard to get along without English, although we do have certain rights to use other languages in public life.The Human Rights Act (1998) guarantees liberty and a fair trial. That’s relevant because it means that suspects must be told why they are being arrested or charged in a language they understand. They are also entitled to free assistance from an interpreter in court.But what about the everyday stuff? The Human Rights Act does not entitle pupils to education in their own language. It doesn’t ensure patients understand their doctor’s diagnosis. It doesn’t help non-English speakers report crimes, attend parents’ evenings or fathom tenancy agreements.Deaf people are better off than most in this respect, since anti-discrimination legislation gives them more rights to use BSL in public. According to the Act, disabled people (which, in law, includes Deaf people) may not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. This means that in many circumstances, companies and organisations are obliged to provide BSL interpreters or other means of communication in order for Deaf people to access services.Web reader Richard Jones believes that there should be a BSL Act equivalent to the Welsh Language Act (1993). Under the latter, speakers have more solid linguistic rights.The Act guarantees that Welsh and English be considered equal in the provision of public services in Wales. And Language Schemes ensure that people can do certain things such as applying for a passport or receiving healthcare in the medium of Welsh.Speakers of other languages of the British Isles, such as Bengali or Chinese, don’t have legislation to help them use everyday services. Yet people whose first language is not English commonly communicate better and feel more at home, less frustrated and less marginalised when they speak their own language.Nava Freeman wrote to Voices to explain how this feels: “When I speak Hebrew my confidence rises, because it’s my mother tongue, and no one looks at me in a strange way!”Farzaneh from London agrees: “I am comfortable [speaking Persian] and enjoy many things which I can not still feel and understand in English.” Abhinav Kishore adds: “Speaking Hindi unifies our community and we feel more relaxed.”As many of you have testified, the British Isles are undoubtedly multilingual, but people who do not speak English or Welsh do not enjoy the same linguistic freedoms as those who do. The British Council website has an excellent section on multilingualism, if you’re interested in finding out more.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/voices/yourvoice/multilingualism2.shtml

multilingualSo What Can Be Done?

While academics and researchers are contributing valuable work at the higher level of education policy, the real situation on the ground in Britain is far from ideal. As an independent language tutor based in the North of England, I cannot say that finding hordes of local adults who are keen to learn a language is easy. But the silver lining is clearly showing. Despite a lack of reliable statistics on adult learning in the UK, my anecdotal evidence has been encouraging. I regularly find people fluent in other languages, adults who tell me excitedly about their years spent living and working abroad.

Initiatives like Routes into Languages provide an excellent push to encourage young people to take up language learning, but there is a huge deficit in the education opportunities open to the working population. The self-improvement and positivity drive that many adults experience in the United States is not as visible on British shores, and sadly language learning still has not been recognised as what it really is — a path to personal growth, increased intellectual power and much improved employability at any age.

The key to boosting Britain’s multilingual advantage lies in boosting the status of multilingualism itself, making it clear that personal growth, enjoyment and happiness are part of what language contributes to the learner’s life. This move forward should be lead by the most qualified educators and most enthusiastic employers, bringing more language events to the population, boosting export, travel and independent education from providers serving the adult workforce and make a difference to the skills on offer today, and not in 20 years.

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http://www.edukwest.com/multilingualism-britain-snapshot-trenches/

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Multilingualism in the USA

AMERICANS are often told that in today’s globalized world, we are at a competitive disadvantage because of our lazy monolingualism. “For too long, Americans have relied on other countries to speak our language,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said at the Foreign Language Summit in 2010. “But we won’t be able to do that in the increasingly complex and interconnected world.”

The widespread assumption is that few Americans speak more than one language, compared with citizens of other nations — and that we have little interest in learning to speak another. But is this true?

Since 1980, the United States Census Bureau has asked: “Does this person speak a language other than English at home? What is this language? How well does this person speak English?” The bureau reports that as of 2009, about 20 percent of Americans speak a language other than English at home. This figure is often taken to indicate the number of bilingual speakers in the United States.

But a moment’s reflection reveals that the bureau’s question about what you speak at home is not equivalent to asking whether you speak more than one language. I have some proficiency in Spanish and was fluent in Mandarin 20 years ago. But when the American Community Survey (an ongoing survey from the Census Bureau) arrived in my mailbox last month, posing that question, I had to answer no, because we speak only English in my home.

I know I’m not alone. There are countless Americans who speak languages other than English outside their homes: not just those of us who have learned other languages in school or through living abroad, but also employers who have learned enough Spanish to speak to their employees; workers in hospitals, clinics, courts and retail stores who have picked up parts of another language to make their jobs easier; soldiers back from Iraq or Afghanistan with some competency in Arabic, Pashto or Dari; third-generation kids studying their heritage language in informal schools on weekends; spouses and partners picking up the language of a loved one’s family; enthusiasts learning languages with computer software like Rosetta Stone. None of the above are identified as bilingual by the Census Bureau’s question.

Every census in the United States since 1890 (except for one, in 1950) has asked about language characteristics, and its question has always seemed to assume that English is the only language relevant for the aspects of life that take place outside the home. This assumption, though outdated, is somewhat understandable. After all, the bureau’s primary goal in asking this question is not to paint a full and complete portrait of the language proficiencies of Americans but rather to track immigrants’ integration into mainstream American society and to ascertain what services they need, and in what languages. (In October, for instance, the Census Bureau released a list of jurisdictions with large numbers of voters who need voting instructions translated in a language other than English.)

Nonetheless, to better map American language abilities, the census should ask the same question that the European Commission asked in its survey in 2006: Can you have a conversation in a language besides your mother tongue? (The answer, incidentally, dented Europe’s reputation as highly multilingual: only 56 percent of the respondents, who tended to be younger and more educated, said they could.) Until the census question is refined, claims about American monolingualism will almost certainly be overstated.

The celebrated multilingualism of not just Europe but also the rest of the world may be exaggerated. The hand-wringing about America’s supposed linguistic weakness is often accompanied by the claim that monolinguals make up a small worldwide minority. The Oxford linguist Suzanne Romaine has claimed that bilingualism and multilingualism “are a normal and unremarkable necessity of everyday life for the majority of the world’s population.”

But the statistics tell a murkier story. Recently, the Stockholm University linguist Mikael Parkvall sought out data on global bilingualism and ran into problems. The reliable numbers that do exist cover only 15 percent of the world’s 190-odd countries, and less than one-third of the world’s population. In those countries, Mr. Parkvall calculated (in a study not yet published), the average number of languages spoken either natively or non-natively per person is 1.58. Piecing together the available data for the rest of the world as best he could, he estimated that 80 percent of people on the planet speak 1.69 languages — not high enough to conclude that the average person is bilingual.

Multilinguals may outnumber monolinguals, but it’s not clear by how much. The average American may be no more monolingual or less multilingual than any other average person elsewhere on the planet. At the very least, we can’t say for sure — not in any language.

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/are-we-really-monolingual.html?_r=0

Speak American: Be multilingual

Many studies show there are cognitive benefits from being bilingual. Bilingualism increases the executive function of the brain, responsible for planning and problem-solving. Yes, the 4-year-old translating for her parents at the pharmacy has connections in her brain that a monolingual does not and is providing an essential service to our society.

In many fields, if you speak more than one language, you make more money. A bilingual teacher in North Texas can make up to $4,000 more a year for working the same amount as a monolingual teacher. The same teacher also has more job opportunities and security.

Recently, studies are showing that bilinguals develop Alzheimer’s or dementia five years later than people who only speak one language. If any of you, like me, has seen a loved one suffer from severe memory loss, you know how priceless five more years could be.

Who would not want their children to be smarter, have more opportunities, and be in their right mind years longer?

But we are ignoring the untapped resource of our indigenous and immigrant communities. In 2012, there were more than 4.5 million students in U.S. schools learning English as a second language, not even accounting for the fully bilingual students. The census predicts that by 2030, around 40 percent of school-age children will have an immigrant parent.

Many people read this with fear. How will we teach all of them English? Actually, youth are losing their home languages quickly in schools that symbolically privilege monolingualism. Immigrant families usually lose their language by the third generation. But how can we afford bilingual programs? Perhaps the question is: How can we afford not to?

Linguistic incompetence costs money. The United Kingdom claims their lack of multilingualism is costing them 48 billion pounds per year. U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has stated: “The United States is a long way from being the multilingual society that so many of our economic competitors are.”

I see the wonderful potential bilingual youth offer us to develop a linguistically competent society.

Still, many people are uncomfortable hearing patriotic songs in multiple languages. To them it feels like losing a country. A country that punished generations of children for speaking their home languages in school.

I understand they feel threatened. If we really think it is better to be bilingual, then monolingual English-speakers lose power — power that has been inherent for generations.

An alternative is to see the beauty of multilingualism. Or we could just want to improve the economy.

Either way, individuals that enrich our country with their languages are certainly a resource for all of us, like my son. In fact, they are perhaps essential to America’s future success in a global economy.

So, I raise my glass of Diet Cherry Coke to the immigrants and people who speak native languages in the United States. Thank you for enriching my life and giving my child what I could never do just on my own.

Source:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/feb/12/speak-american-be-multilingual/2/?#article-copy

The right to life, liberty, and multilingualism shouldn´t be discouraged in US

The Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial in January stirred up conversation about whether or not English is, or should be, the true “American” language. While this is not a new conversation, it is a valid one nonetheless.

The United States of American was founded to be a nation of freedom for all peoples from the start; since then, we have struggled to define our national linguistic identity. This has presented a constant cultural crisis that every generation must decide how to cope with in its own way.

Looking back, the U.S. has defined its culture by pushing “American” culture, including the English language, on everyone. Some people think that this is still necessary. But now we’re in a time where being multi-lingual is highly valued throughout the world. It shouldn’t be any different here in the U.S.

In the past, America dealt with this issue by defaulting to the language spoken by a majority of people, or by the people with the most power. Either way, that language was English. I think this was their natural tendency and not necessarily a bad thing; uniting all citizens under a common language makes communication a lot easier for sectors like government, legal processes, education, health care industries and the business world. But, I also think how the nation went about that uniting process, forcing English on Native Americans and immigrants while degrading their native languages, could be a bad thing.

However, in the last half-century or so, with the emphasis on equality, the coming of technology, the new value seen in diversity and the rise of “global citizenship,” we’ve arrived at the place to change that and decide once again how we are going to cope.

So, let’s throw some stats into the picture. The U.S. Census Bureau published the results of their American Community Survey, “Language Use in the United States: 2011″ in August 2013. It found that 20 percent of Americans spoke a language other than English in the home. Of that 20 percent, approximately 78 percent spoke English “very well” or “well” in addition to their native language. It should be noted that this survey was taken of people aged 5 and over, so some survey members may not have even been enrolled in public school, yet.

The same report also found that though the Spanish language has had the largest increase in the number of speakers from 2000-11, its 34 percent increase of speakers was nothing compared to the 115 percent increase of South Asian language speakers. Let these statistics dispel any notion that one single culture is trying to “overrun” any other culture, or that the majority of immigrants don’t know English or aren’t willing to learn. That is simply not factually correct.

There are societal benefits to knowing English. Speaking English can present many opportunities in today’s world; it has become the global language of business and having that skill as a native or fluent speaker is very valuable in the growing global community.

Having a common language- English- as a uniting force in the U.S. is not a bad thing – it makes the gears of government and economy run more smoothly. But on top of that, it serves as a way to unite the nation and give all the cultures a common medium to share their stories with each other. It gives Americans of all backgrounds the opportunity to experience the world without ever having to buy a passport or even (lightbulb!) learn another language.

That being said, why shouldn’t people want to learn other languages? Being proficient in two or more languages is even more valued in the global community. Having interviewed several international students over the past three years, I’ve learned that many developed countries make learning second, third and even fourth languages a requirement in their school systems. Because of that background, I think many immigrants come to the U.S. with the perspective of wanting their children to be bi-lingual or multi-lingual; it can certainly be advantageous. It’s time the rest of us catch up.

It’s time we value the variety of cultures in our nation as an opportunity for great learning and sharing. Coca-Cola put out a “Behind the Scenes” video for their controversial commercial and in it, one of the interviewees stated, “We don’t get to pick and choose whether America should be diverse or not, it is diverse.” It’s time we recognize that our nation is not defined by English, but by its people and all the beautiful stories they bring with them.

So, we’ve come to a time to choose. It’s time we choose to say yes to continuing to teaching English in schools and using it as our primary language, but not as a way to replace other languages. Instead, it should be used as a way to unite them.

Source:

http://www.kstatecollegian.com/2014/03/04/the-right-to-life-liberty-and-multilingualism-shouldnt-be-discouraged-in-us/

2 Presentations:

http://prezi.com/zif3tlskfn9z/multilingualism-in-the-us/

http://prezi.com/dhsllhldpys_/multilingualism-in-america-today/

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Global warming!

earthLET’S SAVE THE PLANET!

“Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?” — Groucho Marx” — Groucho Marx

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” — Native American Proverb”

What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” — Henry David Thoreau

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Proverb

Vídeo:

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/way-forward-climate?source=searchvideo

Hey you – Madonna

treeGIVE EARTH A CHANCE!!!

Hey you by Madonna

Hey, you, don’t you give up
It’s not so bad
There’s still a chance for us

Hey, you, just be yourself
Don’t be so shy
There’s reasons why it’s hard

Keep it together, you’ll make it all right
Our celebration is going on tonight
Poets and prophets, what ending would we do?
This could be good, hey, you

Hey, you, open your heart
It’s not so strange
You’ve got to change this time

Hey, you, remember this
None of it’s real including the way you feel

Keep it together, you’ll make it all right
Our celebration is going on tonight
Poets and prophets, what ending would we do?
This could be good, hey, you

Save your soul, little sister
Save your soul, little brother

Hey, you, save yourself
Don’t rely on anyone else

First love yourself
Then you can love someone else
Then you can change someone else
Then you have saved someone else

But you must first love yourself
Then you can love someone else
Then you can change someone else
If you can change someone else
Then you have saved someone else
But you must first

Hey, you, there on the fence
You’ve got a choice
One day it will make sense

Hey, you, first love yourself
And if you cant
Try to love someone else

Keep it together, you’ll make it alright
Our celebration is going on tonight
Poets and prophets, what ending would we do?
This could be good, hey you

First love yourself
Then you can love someone else
Then you can change someone else
Then you have saved someone else

But you must first love yourself
Then you can love someone else
Then you can change someone else
If you can change someone else
Then you have saved someone else
But you must first