Multilingual Living’s Week in Review – May 22

by Corey · 0 comments

This is a review of the articles, Tweets, Facebook posts and more which went out this week in and around our Multilingual Living universe. Thank you everyone for sharing your tips, tweets, emails and more with me! Were it not for you, this post wouldn’t even be here!

Been there, done that… decades ago!
It often feels like we are entering brand new terrain when it comes to wanting our children to grow up with more than one language. However, we also know that this is not something new. What kinds of discussions were people having in the past about languages, education and bilingualism?

This week Franck from @earlylanguages delighted us by sharing some articles from decades past which have to do with bilingualism and language learning. It was fascinating to read the words from our predecessors. As an an ancient historian, I have always wondered if we really do learn from our past or simply cycle through the same issues and questions generation after generation. What do you think?

  • Feb. 1956: Language Learning Up to Family: “Our daughter has had no difficulty speaking whatever language was necessary, and when she went to school and had companions she spoke their language. She is now 14 years old and she writes and speaks not only two languages but is learning others. It seems that when you know more languages, another comes easier.”
  • June, 1954: Early Language Teaching Urged by Mrs. Roosevelt: “A former high school teacher — Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt — recommended today that ‘some things like arithmetic be left until later and foreign languages be taught in primary grades from the start. Ear and memory training are so much easier in the earlier years,’ she told teachers attending the 92nd annual convention of the National Education association.”
  • Feb. 1971: Students Are Breaking Through the Communications Barrier: “The intent is to preserve and strengthen, not crush, the bilingual asset of the 5 million children whose native language is not English. A parallel goal is to teach other children in a second language at the same time, often in the same classroom.”
    “Psychologists say no one knows the damage done millions of Spanish-speaking Americans who were purged of the language they knew from birth and made ashamed of their culture when they reached school.”
    “In Laredo, one teacher told of a benefit from the program: virtual elimination of the incidence of pants-wetting in the classrooms. Until bilingual teachers were added, she said, children sometimes waited in vain for an English-speaking teacher who understood their appeals in Spanish to be excused to the bathroom.”

But wait, there’s more – all the way back to 1818!
After reading the above articles, I was inspired to do some additional searches for more articles from the past. It is amazing how much is out there!

While reading the articles below, it is important to view them against the time period that they were written. Our world was not as connected as it is now. Newspaper articles and word of mouth were the primary ways we learned about the world. Below are some highlights that I came across:

  • Dec. 1897: English as the International Language: “There is now no room for doubt that the great international language of the future will be English.”
  • July 1937: Bilingual Bank Notes the Latest in Canada: “The new notes will gradually replace the present stock of 1935 notes which were printed totally in English for English-speaking sections of the country and totally in French for use in the province of Quebec.”
  • Oct. 1910: Bishop Fallon of London Attacks Bilingual System: “The bi-lingual system he scores in the following words: ‘The alleged bi-lingual system of education as it prevails in certain parts of the province of Ontario is absolutely futile as concerning the teaching of either English or French and utterly hostile to the best interests of the children, both English and French.”
  • July 1958: Liking Scotch, Bilinguist Bird Flies Coop to Wet His Whistle: “Max, who speaks Italian and English but prefers scotch, has flown the coop…. Max has a vocabulary of about 300 words in each of the languages he chirps in and has always been the life of the party, Miss Lipani said. He’s most fond of cocktail parties, though.”
  • Jan. 1911: Need of  Universal Language: “Last Summer I sat at the board of a bright Swiss lady in Lucerne and noted how easily she chatted with her guests in German, French, Italian, and English. It appeared to make no difference to her what we spoke. Presently she exclaimed, ‘I wish we had a universal language. I can talk with you, but you can’t talk with each other. I learned Volapük, but it is dead. I have tried Esperanto, but it can never make headway. These made-up things seem to have no life in them.'”
  • Jan. 1899: Some of the Difficulties in Running a Bilingual Sheet in the Isle of Cuba: “These Cuban-American journals are two papers in one. That is — all important news is published in English and Spanish. In the editorial rooms the smoke from the American pipes mingle with the little clouds from Spanish cigarettes and above the jumble of conversation in two languages may be heard the request of some disgruntled native compositor for Spanish copy and the reply of the night editor that if he cannot set good typewritten English he had better go to bed.”
  • Jan. 1900: A Man Without a Language: “Andrew Lawson, a Norwegian cooper, who came to this country a few years ago, was struck on the head by a falling block. … Try as he will he cannot converse in the language that he learned in Norway.”
  • March 1844: French and Spanish Languages: An interesting ad offering instruction in French and Spanish. Included is a poem from one of the students in support of the language program.
  • Aug. 1844: English and French Academy for Young Ladies: “The mornings will be devoted to the English part of education, the course embracing all the branches usually taught in select schools. The afternoons, assisted by Mrs. Arcambal, a lady of refined education, and experienced in teaching, will be set apart for the French in a separate room…” There are additional ads for English and French instruction on the same page.
  • Aug. 1818: A Situation Wanted: “By a Young Gentleman recently from Europe, of the first respectability … The person in question has a knowledge of and writes three languages, viz. English, French and Spanish.”

Multilingual Living Testimonial
This week I was delighted to receive notice of a lovely Multilingual Living testimonial video made by Marcele Hede from Hispanic Culture Online. What an honor to have someone take the time to do this. Thank you, Marcela! This testimonial also goes out to all of you! Multilingual Living wouldn’t be the vibrant, interactive, energetic place it is if it weren’t for you. Thank you for all of this!


Do you have any tips, suggestions or information that you would like to share with us at Multilingual Living? Join me on Twitter, get into the conversation on the Multilingual Living Facebook page, and send me an email whenever you’d like to connect. I always enjoy connecting with other bilingual and multilingual families!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 14, 12 and 10, in German and English.

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