What’s Wrong with Using Child Interpreters?

While it may be harmless or even helpful for the family in many everyday situations, I would warn against relying on child interpreters in high-stakes situations that may have financial, legal, or medical consequences.

US Perceptions of Language Learning

This post first appeared on my personal blog.

Strictly Personal

A question I’ve heard a lot in the US is “How long have you been here?” The answer currently stands at 2.5 years and counting, and the reaction has often been “But your English is so good!” The degree of amazement is usually inversely proportionate to the number heard. You may imagine what it was like when that number was in the months. A frequent follow-up question is “Did you know English before you came here?”

Far from insulting me, this line of thinking is very revealing of the Americans’ notions of language-learning. What I take from it is that people often assume that you learn a language by going to a country where it is spoken. This is consistent with how language-learning occurs for many Americans, and they seem to extrapolate that experience onto other people.

Unlike in many countries in Europe and my native Russia, Americans usually don’t…

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April Issue: Bilingualism in the US

This post first appeared on my personal blog: Image by beer I think our generation's been fortunate to witness the rise of the Internet and cell phone technology. The 7-year gap between my long-term US stays enabled me to witness an equally fascinating development in a different realm: the rise of bilingualism in the US. … Continue reading April Issue: Bilingualism in the US