Click here to watch TED Talk: Kim Potovsky “No child left monolingual”
Kim Potowsky is Associate Professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she directs the Spanish heritage language program. In this TED talk she describes the individual and social benefits of multilingualism as well as its history in the United States. In this post I’m going to briefly sum up the main ideas she has exposed in her talk and further reflections that have crossed my mind.
There are 65% bilingual or multilingual people all over the world but, as Potowsky focuses her research on US, she found that only 20% of the citizens speak non-English languages at home. The fact is that America exhibits and promotes multilingualism, by neither encouraging immigrants to maintain their heritage language nor promoting other languages to be learnt, a part from English. US doesn’t have an official language, but it is obvious that English is required all over the country to success in a professional and social way. Some myths have been heard during many years regarding immigrants and their capability for speaking English, which Potowsky refutes easily, by showing some census results reporting that over 75% of people who speak another language in the home can speak well or very well English. That means society is making the effort to become integrated in the English speaking countries but… why are they forgetting about their heritage language?