Speaking in Tongues

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See a preview of this Truly CA episode.

In a time where 31 states have passed "English Only" initiatives, one urban school district is exploring the provocative notion that speaking a foreign language can be a national asset. Speaking in Tongues follows four diverse students and their families as they encounter the challenges and delights of becoming fluent in two languages. Witness how speaking more than one language changes them, their families, their communities, and maybe even the world.

Speaking in Tongues begins with an ordinary first day of public school kindergarten -- except that the teacher speaks only Cantonese. Most of her primarily white and Asian American students look confused but curious; a few nod knowingly. They are all in a language immersion class, where, from day one, they will receive 90% of their instruction in Cantonese. Remarkably, their school will test first in English and math among their district's 76 elementary schools.

Using a veriteé story-telling approach, the film follows four diverse students as they enter the portal of language and open their minds to new ways of thinking and being in the world. In a time of globalization and changing demographics, bilingualism offers them more than an opportunity to join the global job market. Language becomes a metaphor for breaking down barriers between ourselves and our neighbors -- be they around the corner or across the world.