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Get in for all your friends and relations!

Our friend Jennifer Jones, founder and director of Deaf Family Literacy Academy, (http://www.volunteerusafoundation.org/What-We-Do/Family-Literacy/Deaf-Family-Literacy-Academy2) has shared this post.  It brings dual language ideals to deaf toddlers.

This website tells why sign is so important for deaf toddlers, and how a bi-modal, bi-lingual goal is best for these children.

Check it out: http://www.refresheverything.com/4deaftoddlers

Here’s a link to the Press Release that describes an event at the Jones Library in Amherst, Mass. There is going to be a screening of a film entitled, “Speaking in Tongues.” This event will happen Tuesday, August 3rd, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

Read through the press release for more details! If you have any questions, you can e-mail Lissa Pierce Bonifaz at lissapiercebonifaz@gmail.com.

Let me know what you think!

The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, located in Hadley, Massachusetts “prepares K- 8th grade students for academic and personal success through rigorous study and instruction aligned with the state and federal government standards, augmented with Chinese language and culture. PVCICS’s goals are to graduate students with excellent scholarship, high proficiency in Mandarin Chinese and English, plus sensitivity to multiple cultures.”
You can visit the website here!

According to the website, In grades K-1st, 75% of the daily instruction is in Chinese and 25% in English. In grades 2nd-5th, 50% of the daily instruction will be in Chinese and 50% in English. In grades 6th-8th, 25% of the daily instruction is in Chinese and 75% in English.

Any student residing in Massachusetts can enroll into the school, tuition free! Visit the website to learn more about the school, and there is an information session at 1pm on July 17th.

Here is an article from NYMetro Parents, published in July 2010. The writer of the article consulted with me for information, and some of my quotes were used! I’ve included scans of the article, but I’ve also included text of my quotes.

“Language is learned in lots of tiny bites,” explains Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson, author of Raising A Bilingual Child,  (Random House). Pearson, who has more than 20 years of research under her belt,  says that large experiences – like travel retreats – although important – are less effective. Classes, playgroups, DVDs, audio CDs and iPhone apps as well as foreign language channels and online videos.

“It’s not important enough for the parent to want their child to be bilingual; they have to figure out how to motivate the child to want it as well,” explains Zurer Pearson.

The Spanish publisher for my 2008 book, “Raising a Bilingual Child,” has just sent me the translated Chapter 1 for the book! Chapter 2 is on its way. This is really exciting news! I will keep everybody updated on this book as things progress.


A woman named Leslie e-mailed me asking me to write a response to a newspaper in Oregon regarding a Spanish Immersion program. Here is my response, in full, and abridged.

Dear Oregonian,
I just posted to your blog (http://blog.oregonlive.com/myoregon/post.html) a 300-word version of a letter I wrote in support of the West Linn/ Wilsonville School Committee’s decision to maintain the Spanish Immersion program.
I enclose and attach a copy of a 150-word version that I hope you will be able to print.  Would it be possible to have it appear before the school committee meets again on Wednesday meeting?
Thank you.
Barbara Zurer Pearson

Supporting Spanish Immersion for Our Children

Last year West Linn Schools had the wisdom and parental support to start a Spanish Immersion program.  Such programs enrich the educational experience and cultural perspective of the mainstream children who participate and send an important message to speakers of minority languages that their language and culture are valuable.  Such programs are highly successful because they take advantage of the special mental equipment young children have for learning languages.  They are both more effective and more cost-effective than high school language programs. When carefully planned, early immersion programs need not cost more than the programs they replace.

Even for the kindergartener, however, language learning takes effort,—and above all, it takes consistency and continuity. As a linguist and life-long student of language learning in children, I urge the school committee not to abandon its commitment to providing the best education possible for their children and to continue the Spanish Immersion. (150)


Barbara Zurer Pearson, Ph.D.

Research Associate, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Author of Raising a Bilingual Child (Random House, 2008)


Published in The Linguist, April-May 2010, Vol. 49, issue 2.  The Institute’s website: www.iol.org.uk.

Give it a read and tell me what you think!

Here is a short description of some recent talks I’ve given in the past months regarding bilingualism.

  • After Amigos School in Cambridge, Ma, February 2010.
  • LEX, a language organization based in, Belmont Ma.
  • Arlington Public Library on March 13. There were over 100 enthusiastic people there, and then they asked me to follow up with some posts on a google list.

Poster – Barbara Pearson March 13 lecture

  • Fort Hill School in Northampton with Jill de Villiers, professor of Psychology at Smith College
  • Brandeis University, in Waltham Mass, April 29 (“Being bilingual in a monolingual culture”)
  • Two-Way Spanish/English Charter School in Hoboken, New Jersey. I toured the new facility and spoke at their parents’ meeting.
  • Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, June 12th, Springfield. Topic: Emerging Literacy in Two languages.

All of these are really exciting! I can’t wait to update more about it.

I received an email a little while ago. This is what it said.

Dear Dr. Barbara Zurer Pearson,

I am writing to you as a distressed parent of a kindergarten student currently enrolled in a new Spanish Immersion program in my town of West Linn, Oregon. I found your website and research while looking for anything that can help us impart how critical it is to have foreign language and immersion programs for young students.

Our school board decided last year to implement a Spanish Immersion program in two primary schools starting with the kindergarten class of 2009-10. We were beyond thrilled as you can imagine.

However, just last week we were informed via email from the deputy superintendent that it will be recommended to the school board to eliminate this brand new, and yet flourishing, program. We were told from the beginning that this would never be a budget issue, and yet that is what they are using against us now.

The school board will be meeting on Monday, June 7th to discuss, hear public testimony on, and then vote whether our students will be able to continue with their foreign language

I am writing to ask if you would consider writing an email letter to the members of the school board indicating how important foreign language programs are for our country’s children. I would greatly appreciate this show of support. I understand that this is a weekend and only allows two days, but this is my child’s future education at stake.

Thank you for all the work that you do.”

Here is the letter I wrote.

June 7, 2010

To the West Linn / Wilsonville School Committee:

Last year, you embraced a Spanish Immersion program for all the right reasons.  It enriches the educational experience and cultural perspective of the mainstream children who participate and sends an important message to speakers of minority languages that their language and culture are valuable.  It responds to President Obama’s call for every American child to be bilingual.  So, immersion education is in the interest of the nation, the community, and the children fortunate enough to have access to this forward-looking program.

Early immersion is also cost effective.  As you know, young children have special mental equipment for learning languages; high school students do not.  It is much more costly (and less successful) to make students wait till middle or high school for the opportunity to learn languages. On the other hand, language learning takes effort, even for the kindergartener—and above all, it takes consistency and continuity.

As a linguist and life-long student of children learning more than one language, I applaud the school system for establishing the program, but hope you will also have the determination to continue it.

I am alarmed to hear that you would consider cutting it after only one year.  We realize that budgets are tight everywhere.  But Miami’s experience with immersion schools demonstrates that they do not have to cost more than the non-immersion schooling they replace. However, they do take more organizational effort.  They are born of the strong commitment to providing the best education possible for our children.  That is an intangible without a price tag—one simply cannot buy committed parents, teachers, and administrators.  It is important not to squander them when you have them.

I urge you to maintain the current Spanish Immersion programs, and work with the parents and administrators to keep them on a par with other programs offered—not more privileged, but not less.


Barbara Zurer Pearson, Ph.D.

Research Associate, Linguistics and Communication Disorders

Author, Raising a Bilingual Child (Random House, 2008)

Major Contributor, Language and Literacy in Bilingual Children (Multilingual Matters, 2002).”

Leave in the comments your thoughts about this.

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Book Description

"Raising a Bilingual Child" offers both an overview of why parents should raise their children to speak more than one language and details steps parents can take to integrate two languages into their child's daily routine. It also includes inspirational first-hand accounts from parents. Bilingualism expert Barbara Zurer Pearson provides parents with information, encouragement, and practical advice for creating a positive bilingual environment for young children.

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