The 2009 documentary Speaking In Tongues is a fascinating look at three bilingual programs in the San Francisco area school system. The film itself depicts the effects of learning and losing language for a variety of families over several generations. Although the film is six years old, the issues it raises are definitely still relevant, given the USA’s continuing struggle to deal with immigration, diversity and multilingual cultures.

I co-lead a professional development workshop with this film as a resource and would highly recommend it as a resource for ESOL teachers who are leading PD. It opens up many questions for teachers who work with ELL students, and foreign language teachers as well. The film does have an unabashedly multi-cultural point of view which may clash with some political viewpoints, so a preview and some careful consideration is probably in order.

The movie lends itself to discussions about how teachers deal with ELL students and what effective language instruction looks like. There are resources on the Speaking in Tongues website as well as ordering information DVDs or the option to view online.


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