Top Tips from Teachers for Adult Language Learners

Take this short quiz:

1. When adult language learners start out, they might sound (a) like a native speaker, (b) like Taylor Swift, © like they’re just starting out.

2. One challenge adult language learners have is that they (a) might surpass their kids, (b) might sound like Taylor Swift, © act like adults.

3. When encountering speakers of the language they’re learning, adults should (a) run away, (b) see if they sound like Taylor Swift, © be brave and say something in the language.

Congratulations! This is one time when getting straight C’s means you’ve got this. Now check…


The many flags of Africa suggest the many languages of Africans — approximately 2,000.

In the west African country of Cameroon, it’s not unusual for youngsters playing a neighborhood game of soccer to encounter different languages among their friends. And throughout Africa, it’s not uncommon for people to speak three languages — even if they don’t write or read all three. How do they do it? And what can the United States learn from this continent of polyglots?

For Episode 44 of the America the Bilingual podcast, I talked with three African educators I met at the 2018 ACTFL conference (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). All these gentlemen are teaching…


Kat Cohen with schoolchildren in Cambodia.

Summer travel advisory: If you’re traveling abroad on vacation, using buds of bilingualism may be the surest way to elevate your status from tolerated tourist to valued visitor. Read on…

None of us can master every language, but we can all learn phrases that extend a symbolic hand in greeting and say, “To show I respect you, and therefore your language, I’ll try to speak a few words of it.” No matter how poor the result linguistically, you’ve often made a friend.

And thus, a bud of bilingualism blooms. …


Meet the co-valedictorians of a North Carolina dual-language high school who delivered their address in two languages.

In 2005, North Carolina had seven dual-language schools; in 2018, there were 140. A 2018 graduating class at one of these dual-language high schools had two valedictorians — one a native Spanish speaker and the other a native English speaker, both now fluent in the other’s native tongue.

How did North Carolina do it? Can their success be replicated? And are the number of dual-language schools outpacing the number of bilingual teachers needed for them?

In Episode 42 of the America the Bilingual podcast, host Steve Leveen talks to some of the state’s high-ranking educators on how it’s not just…


The authentically French experience for students extends to the Acadien festival that’s held on the campus of Saint-Anne. The Acadiens are descendants of colonists from France.

This is the fifth episode in the America the Bilingual podcast series on some of the finest summer language immersion programs. It takes us to Université Sainte-Anne in the tiny village of Church Point, Nova Scotia. A French immersion summer program, it is Canada’s most popular and attracts many students from the United States as well. Hear how its small size works to its advantage, and why many students claim to learn more in five weeks here than in five years of classes elsewhere.

THE FRENCH HEARD ROUND THE WORLD

Sainte-Anne holds two five-week immersion sessions. We visited the second…


Sierra Weiner, an ASL student at the University of North Florida, teaching deaf children in Haiti using ASL.

While bilingual schools for spoken languages are becoming more popular in America, fewer children are attending bilingual schools for signed languages. What does that mean for deaf children who should be learning ASL — American Sign Language — as their first language, and at a young age? And what, if anything, can reverse the trend?

In this episode of the America the Bilingual podcast, we talk with two professionals from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the world’s leading university for the deaf; an attorney for education policy at the National Association of the Deaf; and a college student who is…


Aziz Goumi (left) helps Steve interview Mohamed El Kachir (center),who speaks Tamazight (pronounced “Amaziri,” and also called Berber) as his native language. He also speaks Arabic, French, Spanish and English.

In the United States, we hear periodic news reports about people being accosted for speaking another language in public. In order to be a patriotic, real American, one must, it seems, speak only English. If you do happen to speak another language, you should keep it at home, or in your church, maybe. …


STARTALK student Bella Wiedman, who is learning Chinese, tells Steve of her plans to help with trade deals between the United States and China.

On September 11, 2001, the value of knowing another language was probably the last thing on the minds of most Americans. But 9/11 revealed another fissure in this country’s infrastructure: the thousands of jobs going unfilled in our intelligence agencies because not enough Americans speak the language of the countries these agencies must understand.

The Department of Defense has done something about it. In 2007, its National Security Agency started funding a summer program throughout the country to teach what it identified as critical-need languages. …


Walt Disney might have loved the dramatic setting that reveals each new world just around a bend in the road.

In our continuing series of dual language summer immersion programs, in Episode 37 of the America the Bilingual podcast, we learn what it means to “live the language” at Concordia Language Villages — from learning opera in Italian, soccer in German, volleyball in Spanish, and French while waltzing with mops.

Concordia has become famous over the past 50 years for language learning, and its campus in Bemidji, Minnesota, is one that Walt Disney might have approved of as part of his vision for EPCOT.

Each EPCOT-like “village” at Concordia is hidden from view of the other villages, all of them…


Episode 36 of the America the Bilingual podcast:
A Tidal Wave of Love
The John Rassias Legacy

Michael Friesner, Helene Rassias-Miles and Tamara Smith. “We have people that are so incredibly qualified to do anything,” says Helene. “They just believe in the Rassias Method.”

In our continuing series of episodes featuring the most well-known summer language immersion programs in America, in Episode 36 we travel to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, home of the famed Rassias Center, named in honor of the beloved professor John Rassias.

For years, almost since I began studying bilingualism in America, I heard about John Rassias — mostly from former students who raved about how he was such an inspiring and effective teacher. I knew I would have to learn more…

Steve Leveen

Host, America the Bilingual podcast

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