Nine years after bilingual education was banned in Massachusetts, educators are still arguing over the effect on students’ language abilities. Massachusetts is among of several states, including California and Arizona, to ban bilingual education. The fear seems to be that non-English speaking kids won’t learn English fast enough if they receive much of their instruction in their native tongue (which in the US is usually Spanish). The solution has been “total immersion” in English.
Reporter Andrea Smardon of WGBH-Boston has been looking at why the ban came into being, and its effects– whether non-English speakers are now picking English faster, or whether they’re dropping out of school. There’s more on her series here.
Also in the pod, more conversation with UK-based American, Lynne Murphy. Murphy teaches linguistics at the University of Sussex. She also writes the clever and droll blog, Separated by a Common Language. In the last podcast, we talked about twangy accents, pronunciation of the world water, and the declining status of British English in the United States. This time, we consider politeness, and why neither Yanks nor Brits live up to each others’ expectations. One word encapsulates this: toilet. Misuse this word at your peril. But there are others: excuse me and sorry have subtle differences in usage, which if you don’t get them right, may result in the locals thinking you arrogant.
Murphy has an entertaining theory about British people and the word sorry. If you’ve spent any time in the UK, you’ll know that the word comes up all the time, especially in official announcements (“We are sorry to announce that the 9:16 train to Chingford is delayed due to a staff shortage.”). But when Brits bump into people– which they do a lot on their crowded island– they don’t always apologize. Murphy suspects this is because they are in denial about having made any physical contact.
We round off the pod with some girl pop from the 1960s, en español.
Back then, Francisco Franco was still running Spain with an iron fist, and his government resisted anything that smacked of youthful rebellion. But there were mini skirts (not quite so mini in Spain). And there were carefree female singers.
Spain’s best known singer was Marisel.
Marisel is one of many artists featured in a new CD called Chicas: Spanish Female Singers 1962 to 1974.
Most of the tunes on the CD were released as original singles, composed by Spanish song writers.
They had been influenced by British rock, American soul and dance crazes like the twist. The lyrics are Spanish, but the musical language is very much imported.
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