Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Is Your Language?

What Is Your Language? by Debra Leventhal (illustrations by Monica Wellington) is a children's book that celebrates diversity in the world's languages.  Rather than a prose story or even a story in rhyme, Leventhal has written a simple song with a melody children will love to sing along to!  Follow along as a little boy from the United States goes on a trip around the world and meets new friends in other countries.

Most of the languages represented in this book are very common, unlike Good Morning, Good Night, which is a story in Maori, an endangered language of New Zealand.  I chose to feature What Is Your Language? anyway, because I think it's really cute and it is still relevant to the topic of Endangered Languages Week.  With this book, you and your child can learn together how to say "yes" and "no" in nine other of the world's languages:  German, French, Russian, Inuktitut (an Inuit language), Japanese, Chinese (I assume Mandarin, since that appears to be the most common dialect for second-language learners), Arabic, Swahili, and Spanish.

There is a basic map with oceans and continents labeled on both the front and back inside covers, and the back pages of the book also have the following resources:  the words and sheet music for the song AND a page of information about language, including a little information about each of the languages featured in the book and a basic pronunciation guide for the non-English words.  From other reviews online, it sounds like when bought new, this book also comes with a tape or a CD, but I bought my copy gently used at Half Price Books, and it did not have any audio accompanying it - I used to be in band, though, so I was able to read the music in the back of the book and understood how the song was supposed to go.

I think this book is a cute and fun way to get a young child interested in other languages and cultures; it's no Dora the Explorer, but when I tried it out with some preschoolers at the childcare facility where I used to work, they really enjoyed the song and had a lot of fun saying the foreign words.

How many languages do you speak, and what are they?  Do you want to learn any more?

My first language is English, obviously, but I took French in high school and I'm taking it now in college as well.  I definitely wouldn't say I'm anywhere close to fluent, but I enjoy it.  There are a TON of other languages I wish I could learn, but the ones at the top of the list are related to my heritage:  Polish and Gaelic (Irish or Scots...maybe both? They seem mutually intelligble to a certain point, but I could be wrong about that. I'll have to find out).  I'd also like to learn Italian, because we lived there for a short time when I was a kid and my dad was stationed in Sicily.  I only got to learn very little of the language the short time we were there, and I remember even less, so I would love to go back to that sometime.

I also think it would be insanely cool to be able to speak Middle English or Old English, or at least be able to read them more fluently.



See what others are saying about it, or buy it now:
Better World Books

1 comment:

  1. I think anything that teaches multiculturalism and encourages children to learn is a great thing!! Language is such a wonderful tool and way to bring people together!

    ♥ Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf