WBEZ | language http://www.wbez.org/tags/language Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en List: Genders for American words http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/list-genders-american-words-107622 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4896822030_e7fa872658.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Flickr/kristin_a " />One of the reasons why Americans are so terrible at learning new languages is that other languages assign genders to nouns, while American English avoided this.&nbsp;</p><p>Well, that grand experiment failed.</p><p>It&#39;s time to start giving English words genders to help our children learn French, Italian, and even more useful languages than that. Here are a few to get you started.</p><p>Happy learning!</p><p>computer: boy</p><p>iPhone: girl</p><p>book: boy</p><p>magazine: girl</p><p>jeans: girl jean</p><p>shorts: boy</p><p>hand sanitizer: girl</p><p>Vaseline: boy</p><p>pencil: girl</p><p>pen: girl</p><p>eraser: boy</p><p>paper: boy</p><p>paper pulp: girl</p><p>toaster: girl</p><p>Kitchenaid mixer: boy</p><p>Tabasco sauce: girl</p><p>Sears Tower: girl</p><p>Willis Tower: boy</p><p>Blackhawks: boy</p><p>Bears: girl</p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 08:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-06/list-genders-american-words-107622 The Weight of Tradition in Language Teaching http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/weight-tradition-language-teaching-107178 <p><p>In order to understand the weight of tradition in today&rsquo;s foreign language textbooks, one needs to return to the way Latin was taught in schools during the Renaissance period. Five hundred years ago, the Grammar-Translation Method (GTM) was the preferred method for foreign language instruction. When the time came to teach the oral aspects of the new spoken languages derived from Latin (such as Italian, French, Spanish), the only available model was the way Latin was taught, that is, a method devised for the teaching of a &lsquo;dead&rsquo;, or primarily written, language.</p><p>Even now, people believe that it is necessary to translate, learn grammar rules and do written exercises in order to learn the oral aspects of a foreign language. However, recent research in the neurosciences, mainly in neurolinguistics, indicates that this is not the case.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Claude Germain</strong> has Ph.Ds in linguistics (1970) and philosophy (1989). He is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Language Pedagogy (Département de didactique des langues) at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal). He has written several books about teaching second languages: <em>Évolution de l&rsquo;enseignement des langues</em> : <em>5 000 ans d&rsquo;histoire</em> (1993), <em>Le point sur l&rsquo;approche communicative</em> (1993) et <em>Le point sur la grammaire</em> (1995). He created a neurolinguistic approach to improve foreign language teaching with Joan Netten (Memorial University of Newfoundland).</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AF-webstory_13.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br />Recorded live Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at&nbsp;Alliance Française de Chicago</p></p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 10:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/weight-tradition-language-teaching-107178 What gay sounds like: The linguistics of LGBTQ communities http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/what-gay-sounds-linguistics-lgbtq-communities-99994 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GaysTheWord.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There are no language markers common to all homosexual or same-sex identified individuals. But just as ethnic communities have ways of using language that tie them together, so too do many in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.</p><p>Many also find it beneficial to code switch - adapt the way they speak and the language they use - depending on their surroundings.</p><p>William Leap, an anthropology professor at American University in Washington, D.C., coined the term &quot;Lavender Linguistics&quot; to describe the study of language used by LGBTQ speakers.</p><p>He is one of the organizers of an annual <a href="http://www.american.edu/cas/anthropology/lavender-languages/" target="_blank">Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference</a> on the subject of how sexuality and gender identity relate to language.</p><p>Host Richard Steele interviewed Leap last week about who decides what gay sounds like and why the words we use to identify ourselves and others are so important.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/what-gay-sounds-linguistics-lgbtq-communities-99994 'Chinglish' makes comedy out of cultural confusion http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-24/chinglish-makes-comedy-out-cultural-confusion-88301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-24/chinglish.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite the politics of strategic partnership, the U.S. and China sometimes seem to inhabit two different planets. In the new comedy <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/season/Production.aspx?prod=114" target="_blank"><em>Chinglish</em></a>, Tony-Award-winning Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang shares a story of absurd cultural misunderstanding between these nations. <em>Chinglish</em> follows a Midwesterner in China as he desperately tries to land a big contract for his family’s sign-making firm. There, he learns the extent of all he doesn’t understand about both business and humanity.</p><p>Hwang shares with us the back story behind the play, which debuts Monday at the <a href="http://www.goodmantheatre.org/" target="_blank">Goodman Theatre</a>. His semi-autobiographical play <em>Yellow Face</em> is also being staged at the <a href="http://www.srtp.org/" target="_blank">Silk Road Theater Project</a>. He explained that it was the poorly translated English signs that he saw on a trip to China that inspired him to write Chinglish, which refers to this ungrammatical use of English (one example is of a sign Hwang saw during his travels that said "F- the certain price of goods, which should have been "Dry goods pricing department").&nbsp;&nbsp;As follows are some the insights Hwang shared with Jerome McDonald:</p><p><em><strong>On his own Chinese-speaking skills:</strong></em></p><p>“I need to have a translator when I go to China. And when I was growing up as a kid, I actually kind of needed a translator to deal with relatives.”</p><p><em><strong>On the state of Chinese culture today:</strong></em></p><p>“In fact, in China right now, there is sort of a nostalgia movement for the cultural revolution.”</p><p>"I think that China is dealing, again, with this sort of pace of change and dislocation, and then trying to figure out how to reconcile that. And I think it’s something that, you know, in America, we’re mostly focused on China’s growth as an economic power...[but] they are really looking at how they relate to their own past and where they’re going."</p><p><strong><em>On business between different people:</em></strong></p><p>“I think that you, especially when you’re doing business, working with people, dealing with people you don’t know – if you’re smart, you use whatever’s available.</p><p>For instance, in <em>Chinglish</em>, the American businessman does get a certain mileage out of this sort of straightforward, Midwestern honesty. And we find out his real situation is actually more complex.”</p><p><em><strong>On language and communication:</strong></em></p><p>“Even if you understand literally what the other person is saying, you still might not understand what the other person is saying.”</p><p>“I wanted to write a play that would deal with the issue of language. It seems to me that one of the main things that anyone deals with in that dynamic is the barrier of language.”</p><p>As a Chinese-American, I have written about the dislocation of Chinese Americans here, not totally respected as Americans.</p><p><em><strong>On projecting the translator to show the audience what specific characters are saying:</strong></em></p><p>"I thought it would be really amusing. The audience knows what everyone on stage is saying – but not all the characters on stage know what everyone else is saying."</p><p><em><strong>On his hopes for the future:</strong></em></p><p>“Well I hope the audience is able to understand a little better what its like to have to work between cultures, because in some sense, it’s not just the American businessman traveling to China who has to work between cultures today. Really, all of us do that, because the world is getting smaller, because of globalization.</p><p>And so, just to be aware that some things are difficult to translate, some things that are concepts, that even if you understand the literal word you might as well be speaking another language, and I hope it humanizes the experience of what it is to be Chinese, to be American, and to try to travel between those two cultures.”</p><p><em><strong>On whether his plays will be performed in China:</strong></em></p><p>"You know, I think there is an ambition among certain producers in China, but it’s something that the government will not allow to happen....[However]&nbsp;Because the movie for <em>M Butterfly</em> was banned, a lot of people saw it."</p><p><strong><em>On casting according to race:</em></strong></p><p>“When it comes to casting, I feel like there is an employment issue, where we still wouldn’t cast James Earl Jones to play George Washington. But basically I feel that actors, playwrights, directors, producers, have the right to cast whoever they want to cast. But people who don’t like it have the right to complain as loudly as they want, and that’s the whole way to ensure everyones civil liberties.”</p><p>“Yes, the goal is a post-racial society…but on the other hand too, racist things still happen, and when they do, then you have to fight that.”</p></p> Fri, 24 Jun 2011 15:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-24/chinglish-makes-comedy-out-cultural-confusion-88301 Foreign language to become a priority in Chicago Public Schools http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/foreign-language-become-priority-chicago-public-schools <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/studying.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In a move that could eventually expand dual language programs in Chicago Public Schools, the district announced Friday it plans to make learning a language a core part of its education program.&nbsp;</p><p>If the new initiative takes hold, thousands of Chicago students from preschool through 12<sup>th</sup> grade could be learning math, science and writing, not just in English, but in Spanish as well&mdash;regardless of what language they speak at home.</p> <div>&ldquo;This is a strong vision to say that all CPS students&mdash;over time&mdash;will be bilingual and biliterate,&rdquo; said Beatriz Ponce de Leon, head of the Bilingual and World Language Initiatives for CPS. &ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t said that before, and we haven&rsquo;t focused it in that way.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The district is running pilot dual language programs in four elementary schools this year. District officials could not say how many dual language programs the district will start, or where they&rsquo;ll be.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A rethinking of the CPS&rsquo;s language education programs was recommended by <a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/FeaturedItem/Pages/BilingualEducationWorldLanguage.aspx">a commission</a> that included the two Latino members of the Board of Education, Clare Muñana and Alberto Carrero, Jr. They said the shift is needed as Chicago moves from a &ldquo;regional urban center to a first-rate global city.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Ponce de Leon says programs will begin in Spanish but could grow to include additional languages.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Last spring, many language programs were on the chopping block during the district&rsquo;s budget crisis. And prior attempts to build dual language programs in the district have lost steam. Ponce de Leon said the Board of Education is expected to consider a resolution at its December meeting that would formalize the district&rsquo;s new focus on language and commitment to producing bilingual and biliterate students.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>District officials believe the focus on language learning may also help improve academic achievement.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of research that shows that students that are fully bilingual and biliterate do better academically, and we want to capitalize on that,&rdquo; said Ponce de Leon.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Until now, Chicago has offered &ldquo;world language programs&rdquo; in 40 elementary schools, where students study Spanish, Mandarin, Arabic or other languages. In high school, students must study two years of foreign language. But those programs are not designed to make students bilingual.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Separately, the district provides bilingual education to thousands of students who speak a language other than English at home. Those students receive temporary instruction in their native language while improving their English.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Until now, the world language programs and bilingual programs have been run separately and served students with different needs. One goal of the new initiative will be to integrate the two models where possible.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>CPS will also create &ldquo;heritage language programs&rdquo; in between 10 and 15 schools to help students retain or &ldquo;reclaim&rdquo; languages spoken in their family.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div></p> Sat, 13 Nov 2010 06:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/foreign-language-become-priority-chicago-public-schools