Postscript to bilingual parenting article

I’m excited that my Quartz essay on bilingual parenting was picked up by social channels of The Atlantic, Vox, KQED, Flipboard and Pocket Top 10 and government and educational organizations in the past week.

Unfortunately, there seem to be some misconceptions about it, so I’d like to address them:

  1. Yes, many parents are lucky to raise bilingual/trilingual kids without as much effort. That’s great. While this has been my experience, the process is as unique as each family member’s language ability and their environment.
  2. Yes, bilingualism has lots of cognitive advantages, too many to list in a short article. It does not cause speech delays, confusion, retardation, measles or rubella.
  3. Unfortunately, this is a particularly American situation, as much of the world outside the U.S. nurtures multilingualism.

In addition to positive feedback from lots of folks who are in the same boat, it’s been interesting to read some personal comments and messages saying that I’m a lazy uncommitted parent and a dumb American. My hat off to those who’s got it easier. I hope parents keep exposing their kids to many cultures and languages, despite the struggles many of us experience. And that they don’t feel alone doing it.

Maybe this calls for a book.

 

Quartz: A lot of our ideas about bilingual children are total myths

This reported essay was published in Quartz on Aug. 13, 2017.

Note: There are many unique approaches to bilingualism that may or may not work for different multicultural families living in the U.S. This is just one of them. 

https://qz.com/1051986/a-lot-of-our-ideas-about-bilingual-children-are-total-myths/

“What’s that music?” my three-year-old asked as we listened to a song in a foreign language last December.

Could my toddler be showing an interest in her Russian heritage? Maybe this would be a chance to tell her about the revered winter holidays of my childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia—calling up images of the falling snow as schoolgirls in black-brown uniforms and giant bows in their hair sang carols about solidarity…

For the complete article, click here

22 funny things my students wrote and the beauty of diversity

The other day, I came across some pretty amusing things my former college students wrote in essays, informal reading responses and the “Here’s why I’m not bringing myself or my homework to class today” emails.

It was also a reminder that English teachers are often seen as unlicensed therapists of sorts, becoming privy to students’ depression and homesickness, struggles with gender identity, family abuse, unplanned pregnancies, homelessness. Perhaps even more so in the multifaceted San Francisco. In fact, an English college class in the Bay Area is kind of like the microcosm of our country. Everyone is different. Yet everyone wants to do well. That’s why empathy, on case-by-case basis, instead of authoritarianism and blowing people off with “you’re fired/deported/whatever” might be just the thing to help someone succeed.

ANYWAY, here are those funny bits I promised.

1. She glared at me with her frightful open eyes, popped out.

2. Hearing [Alice Walker] talk about the small shit she worries about makes me think about the small shit I worry about, which makes me think I really need a cigarette.

3. In the midst of California’s prospering “Silicon Valley,” my adolescent purgatory stood like a fading ghost of post-war optimism.

4. In Russia, party without vodka and herring is not a party.

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17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year

person-of-the-yearTime Magazine has recently nominated their person of the year for 2016. (For the record, they’ve also had Stalin and Hitler on that list and their reasons are anything but complimentary.)

Of the seven billion people on the planet, many do pretty fabulous things on a daily basis. I’d like to propose someone that may be a worthier candidate.

So, gentle reader, you deserve the title, if:

1. If you’ve lost work and sleep to care for an ailing relative.

2. If you saw a nut job draw a weapon in an attempt to kill innocent civilians and you intercepted him.

3. If you grit your teeth and kicked a bad habit.

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No, our nation isn’t one of bigots – but here’s what to do if you meet one. Or two.

On November 8, the glass ceiling didn’t shatter, the balloons didn’t drop, though the champagne was consumed anyway, right out of the bottle, for different reasons.

It hasn’t even been a week since the election, and there’s already an uptick in racially-motivated verbal and physical violence, with Trump-lovers tearing off Muslim women’s hijabsscribbling slurs on public and private property and going on anti-Semitic rants. As someone who once moderated a Facebook page for an official U.S. Navy Command, I’ve never seen as much trolling as in the wake of this election and following it. And let me say, that Navy Facebook page saw some brutal content, what with people swearing like sailors and outbursts by enemies of the state.

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How to write a speech that doesn’t suck if you are a wife (or a husband) of a presumptive presidential nominee

(Image: Melania Trump gives a speech at the RNC convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016 (CNN photo))

melania

Okay, let’s get a few things straight. Party affiliations aside, it’s neat that a wife of a presumptive presidential nominee was born outside of the U.S. and in Communist nation, no less. Gives her a global perspective (baby carrots don’t grow this way, most of the world doesn’t have paper towels, kids walk to school alone and survive). Also, don’t hate her for being beautiful. And the accent? Big deal, I got one too, even though we both spent most of our lives in the U.S. as citizens, some with better purses and a personal chef.

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“Hey comrade, join our farming collective!” (From The Huffington Post)

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Terry Gross on not having kids and a civil chat on parenting

Back in grad school, I had an opportunity to interview Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air radio show on WHYY.

She finally agreed to an interview for the school paper after I stalked her for a couple of weeks and eventually told her in a voicemail of how Fresh Air has impacted me as an immigrant.

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