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Speaking in Tongues (2009)

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Four students become fluent in second languages while attending public school, with challenging and delightful results.


While having a diverse ethnic mix of peoples within its borders, institutions in the United States in general strive for a mono-linguistic culture, namely English. However, what is increasingly being offered is language immersion programs in public schools, where everything is conducted in that language, except for the separate English class taught in English. These programs are not only populated by students of that ethnic background, but of other ethnicities as well. Durrell, a black child, is starting in Mandarin immersion. Ethnic Anglo Julian has been in Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin) immersion for nine years. Hispanic Jason, whose parents don't speak English, is in Spanish immersion. And Chinese Kelly, whose parents don't speak Cantonese, is in Cantonese immersion. Parents are choosing to send their children to language immersion programs so that they may be provided greater opportunities in their future. Some parents, however, fear that English will be compromised in the ... Written by Huggo

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four kids, four languages, one city, one world





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April 2009 (USA)  »

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Helped Us Decide Whether or Not to Enroll Our Son in an Immersion Program
10 February 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

My wife and I are enrolling our soon-to-be five year old in a Spanish immersion program when he begins kindergarten this fall, and this movie is largely what sold us on the idea. Our school district hosted a viewing of "Speaking in Tongues" as part of an informational session on its program in particular and immersion programs in general. The film helped us have a better understanding of how immersion programs actually work (the film includes a scene of a kindergarten class on its very first day in a Chinese immersion program, and the look on one little boy's face as his teacher is explaining to him in Chinese where to put his backpack is priceless) and what the benefits of them are. After speaking to the educators who actually run the program in our area, I don't have expectations that our son will come out of fifth grade actually speaking a foreign language. It sounds like not enough attention has been paid to developing the program past elementary school for that. But the cognitive, problem-solving and social development advantages that studies have shown are part of these immersion programs are incredibly persuasive whether or not at the end of it all the child is bilingual.

Grade: A-

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