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The Multilingual Mind

August 1, 2017

Video Length 3:09

 

 

Who Should Read It

Anybody who has ever been exposed to more than one language and anyone who plans to expose their kids of multiple languages.

 

Why Should We Read It

There is rich and fascinating research into second language acquisition, and this book deftly synthesizes many aspects of this academic subject into one easy-to-read anthology.  

 

What Will We Learn

We will gain a greater appreciation of the personal perspectives of individuals who live life in more than one language.

 

Book Summary

 

"Like many second-generation children of my day, I have many memories of Monday-Friday primary school lessons in the English language, and Vietnamese language classes on Saturday mornings."

 

I was born in the United States to immigrant Vietnamese parents, and my personal life has always been a mix of Vietnamese and English languages. Like many second-generation children of my day, I have many memories of Monday-Friday primary school lessons in the English language, and Vietnamese language classes on Saturday mornings. I believed, even in my early elementary school days, that my life seemed a little more complicated with my obligation (or burden) to balance my linguistic duality. I never truly realized that my bilingual environment, and all the trials and tribulations that come with it, are common experiences both in the United States and worldwide.

 

 

"Fluency is a function of each person's linguistic needs and life situations, and very few people need to have complete and total literacy in multiple languages."

 

Professor Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa's 2003 book, The Multilingual Mind, is a collection of academic essays and personal reflections focusing on "issues discussed by, for, and about people living with many languages." According to Professor Tokuhama-Espinosa, at least half of the world is bilingual, but not necessarily bi-literate. This is an important paradigm shift in my own linguistic self-evaluation. I can read Vietnamese, and I speak, write, and comprehend with intermediate-level skills. Just because I can neither conduct business nor enjoy novels in the Vietnamese language does not mean I am not bilingual. Fluency is a function of each person's linguistic needs and life situations, and very few people need to have complete and total literacy in multiple languages.

 

 

"The extensive bibliographies at the end of each essay hint at a rich world of active research if we wish to delve further."

 

The Multilingual Mind goes beyond clarifying semantics and definitions; the essays also explore very deeply how bilingual individuals experience their world. How do the sense of smell and exposure to music affect second language acquisition? In what language do bilingual students solve math problems? What happens when children grow up in countries/cultures not of their own, or in scarce language environments? What is it actually like to be tri-lingual, or truly bi-literate? In what part of the human brain is all of this linguistic activity actually happening? The essays are delightfully informative and readable; the extensive bibliographies at the end of each essay hint at a rich world of active research if we wish to delve further.

 

 

"I am reminded that the road to multilingualism may have started with uncontrollable circumstance, but it only continues with intentional persistence."

 

I have now come full circle since that unknown day over twenty years ago when I successfully begged and pleaded for my parents to stop sending me to Saturday Vietnamese school. I am now engaged, and I reflect very regularly how my own heritage ties into my hopes for my future family. Fortunately for me, I now have an entire online catalog of apps, videos, and text books to help me maximize my full multilingual potential and pass on what I know to my children. And with authors like Professor Tokuhama-Espinosa, I am reminded that the road to multilingualism may have started with uncontrollable circumstance, but it only continues with intentional persistence.

 

 

 

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