If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. ~Nelson Mandela
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, along with Libia Gil, wrote a piece that highlights our obligation as educators in our endeavor to grow future leaders. The authors remark, “We challenge our schools and communities to invest in our future leaders with biliteracy and multiliteracy skills.” While much of the writing talks about ESL learners as an “asset,” the article also describes multilingualism as a tool of significant importance for both the global economy and national security (and I would add to that- cognitive development and cultural competency).
When reflecting on the importance of international events, such as the winter Olympics in Sochi, reading this article gave me pause. I love that the authors quoted one of the most inspiring people to live, Nelson Mandela, who said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” This speaks to the need for our educational system to both embrace heritage language learners while encouraging multilingualism, and I am encouraged by the recognition language is getting in our predominantly monolingual nation.
Follow the link for the complete article from the Redlands Daily Facts.
Learner, Thinker, Writer: Julia Kuipers serves the Trinity School community as a World Languages Teacher.