“I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to changing how and when languages are taught here in the US, but I feel I’ve failed to move the needle in the right direction.“
Ines Lormand, my guest for Episode 17, brings intensity and encyclopedic approach to life, language, and culture. She believes in the power of stories–our own and others’– to embody and reveal truths about the nature of human life and language. Throughout a lifetime of achievement in world language education and publishing, Ines has kept pushing herself–and us!–in the direction of more achievement, greater impact, and more precise understanding of how languages work in order to bring quality of life to individuals and humanity as a whole.
Ines tells this story of multi-lingual and multi-cultural origins within her family, her life and careers, and her meeting and marrying her multi-lingual and multi-cultural husband. These stories reveal the power of early multilingualism and the opportunities and energy that flow from it. Ines ties these experiences to her complete commitment to providing others, children in particular, with the gifts of languages and cultures. Because she feels it so intensely, having lived it and seen the transformation in so many lives, the struggle to bring the same sense of urgency and necessity to the education of young children in the United States has been a highly personal one. Where early childhood language options have grown, Ines feels a sense of not only accomplishment but relief. Where there has been limited response or a turning away from the linguistic power of children’s brains and lives, Ines feels a personal loss.
As you listen to Episode 17, ponder how your own “language origin story” has become part of your biography, and what pathways you would point out to others in order for them or young people in their charge to open their minds and lives to wider fields of language and culture.
Ines Lormand’s bio and resources:
I was born and raised in Germany, and I grew up speaking French, English, Spanish, and Italian. Later I added Arabic. I studied linguistics and worked as an interpreter and a flight attendant to combine my love of travel and language.
Over the years, I have lived on three different continents and in six different countries, and I’ve travelled extensively on five continents. I moved to the US with my husband and young daughter when I was 32.
I’ve taught languages at the university, high school, and middle school levels, and I was supervisor for bi-lingual immersion programs in Louisiana. I spent twenty years in publishing before retiring in 2012. I then moved from Houston to Oklahoma City to be near our only child and our two grandchildren.
My biggest regret is that I never had the chance to learn one of the tonal languages, such as those found in Asia.
How the Brain Benefits from Being Bilingual: The benefits of a bilingual brain are many. Here is a brief article and clear graphic that pull the major categories together.
Tracy Trautner of the Michigan State University Extension writes, in this article on the Advantages of a Bilingual Brain, that teaching young children a second language is as simple and natural as learning the first, and provides many important cognitive, emotional, educational, and life advantages.
Census Infographics & Visualizations: Maps of heritage languages spoken in the United States are always eye-opening. The US Census Bureau collects such data regularly; you can search the maps of language distribution from various years and for a variety of language choices.
Multilingualism Zero-Three (Bialystok & Martin, 2004; Zelazo, Carlson, & Kesek, 2008) provides a succinct look at the facts about and implications of multilingualism. This is one of many options for excellent research articles, which have found that bilingual children have better working memory than children who speak only one language. Morales, Calvo, & Bialystok, 2013, note that working memory holds, processes, and updates information over short periods of time and is very important for problem solving and executive function.
Michigan State University’s Extension provides many excellent reports on language learning. The “language” keyword search provided in the link leads to such articles as “Personal Power Starts with Language,” “Inclusive Language/Native American Institute,” and “Your Child’s Language Development.” Then you can search other language/brain aspects to your heart’s content.
To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.