2/06/2020 Staff

No Child Left Monolingual

Kimberly Potowski 
Professor of Spanish Linguistics, University of Illinois at Chicago

The U.S. has always been a linguistically diverse nation, but the overall climate usually discourages and sometimes outright discriminates against the use of non-English languages. The grandchildren of immigrants often don’t speak their grandparents’ language anymore, which squanders the wonderful resource of hundreds of non-English languages spoken in communities across the U.S.  In addition, overall we don’t do a great job teaching foreign languages to monolingual English-speakers. This talk explores several myths about languages in the U.S. and presents arguments and strategies that favor promoting multilingualism among our population.

Dr. Kim Potowski is Professor of Spanish Linguistics in the Department of Hispanic & Italian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She directs the Spanish for Heritage Speakers program and is the founding director of its summer study abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico. Her research focuses on Spanish in the U.S. and connections between language and ethnic identity. As a Fulbright scholar she studied the linguistic and educational experiences of U.S.-raised Mexican youth whose families had returned to Mexico. She has authored and edited over 12 books including:

  • The Handbook of Spanish as a Heritage Language

  • “Mexi-Rican” Spanish and identity in Chicago

  • El español de los Estados Unidos

  • Heritage language teaching: Research and practice

  • Language diversity in the USA , and 

  • Language and identity in a dual immersion school 

She has also written Spanish textbooks including Gramática española: Variación socialConversaciones escritas  and Dicho y hecho. Her advocacy for the value of dual language education in promoting bilingualism and academic achievement was the focus of her 2013 TEDx talk “No child left monolingual.”

This event was proposed by Kathrin Theumer & Ana Anderson and is sponsored by the Department of Spanish and Linguistics; International Studies; Latin American Studies; the Faculty Center; and the Humanities Initiative.

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