Anecdotes, Opinions, Commentary.
By Freddie A. Bowles
Posted from Fayetteville, Arkansas
With pleasure and gratitude, I extend a hearty "thank you" to each one of you who has taken the time to respond to the missives on Planet Gnosis. (As an aside and in tribute to summer reading, I offer a bit of trivia. The word "Gnosis" appears in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Cite the page and win a prize, she jests!)
Responses from Near and Far
Foster the Sense of Community.
For everyone's edification, allow me to share the responses from near and far.
Vera, our dear Hungarian "daughter," exclaims, "Woow, what a project, I've read most of it now, cool! Congratulations! And thank you for sharing it with me." Vera is our most distant respondent (so far) and is a linguist herself, speaking English and Spanish in addition to Hungarian. She and son Marcus attended primary school together in Györ, Hungary. She has also worked in India and Japan, so I can imagine she has picked up a spattering of Hindi and Japanese as well.
Dr. F., Novartis scientist extraordinaire, sends her congratulations from Vienna. She has her own stories to tell as an adult learner of German.
Colleagues from points across the continental U.S.A. have been supportive and offered their thoughts on language issues raised by the essays. One concurs that learning English is essential to the success of all immigrant students but differs with the idea of requiring a specific language for preservice teachers. She promotes choice of a foreign language in the teacher education curriculum.
Immersion for Young Learners.
Several readers applauded the idea of learning a foreign language in primary school. Rita M., former colleague at another university, even offered the idea of immersion programs in schools for young learners. She also reminisced about the challenges facing adult learners of another language. Tam S., German instructor, recalled being on a state curriculum committee as an advocate for language learning at the elementary level — alas, to no avail.
Two anecdotes portray the wide variance of language learning in the U.S. One reader recalls her grandfather's struggle to learn English in an enclave of his fellow immigrants. He decided to leave the familiarity of his mother tongue and emigrated to Arkansas to learn English. The other story speaks of a grandson's desire to learn Spanish. Laura E.'s son John began his studies of Spanish as a seventh grader because his grandfather learned to speak Spanish in Cuba. John's grandfather lives in Texas, where his command of our neighbor's first tongue bodes well in his personal and business life. Now he serves as a language role model for a family member, too.
A Guest Writer on the Horizon.
Our (the use of the first person plural adjectival pronoun is intentional — webmistress Freddie B. views Planet Gnosis as a virtual learning community where the open exchange of ideas is encouraged) first acceptance of an offer to serve as guest writer arrives from a not-so-distant public school teacher. October V. R., a fellow Ozarkian, has agreed to pen a report about the ESL Academy, a summer professional development opportunity for Arkansas teachers. We eagerly await more agreements of participation!
Until the next missive...