Our Mother Tongues Blog

Speaking in Tongues: Groundbreaking Film on Bilingualism and Education Now Available

October 30, 2014 - 1:13 PM | by Our Mother Tongues

San Francisco, CA. PatchWorks Films is pleased to announce the home video release of Speaking in Tongues, their award-winning documentary about dual-language education and its broader social impact (watch the trailer at: www.speakingintonguesfilm.info). Speaking in Tongues follows four diverse students who spend most of their day learning in a "foreign" language. As they grow in skill and proficiency, we see how knowing two languages changes them, their families, their communities, and their world.

Speaking in Tongues showcases a world where language barriers are being addressed in San Francisco public schools on a daily basis. Durell, an African-American boy from public housing, learns to read, write, and speak Mandarin. Jason, a Mexican-American boy, whose parents are not literate in any language, develops academic Spanish while mastering English. Kelly, a Chinese-American girl, regains her grandparents’ mother tongue—a language her parents lost through assimilation. Julian, a Caucasian teen, travels to Beijing to stay with a Mandarin speaking host family and test his fluency. Together, these students’ stories reveal the promise of a multilingual America. Each kid’s world opens up when they start learning two languages on the first day of kindergarten, and we see them develop both bicultural and bilingual fluency.
Speaking in Tongues is a must for anyone interested in America’s role in our interdependent world. Business leaders point to a “flattening” world, seeking workers with multilingual skills like those displayed by many from rising nations; the Department of Defense pours hundreds of millions of dollars into teaching; languages deemed “strategic” to national security (today Mandarin, Arabic, Russian. Tomorrow, Hindi? Portuguese? Malay?); and many educators tout the improved test scores of bilingual children—whether they speak English as a first language or not.

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