Friday, February 3, 2012

Poetry Friday & Language(s)

by Amy LV

Students - I hold great respect for children and adults who speak two languages.  Having grown up with only English, I love knowing that some families cross the borders of word and sound, have double the words and expressions for the same experiences.  When I was a teenager, I lived for a year in Denmark, and during that year I learned Danish.  It was very difficult, and I was afraid to speak for some time, afraid to sound stupid.  But my host family encouraged me, and I finally realized that speaking was the only way that I would make friends.  In time, I learned to speak Danish well and even thought and dreamed in it.  And when I came home to America, I would sometimes search for a perfect word...and find that it did not exist in English.

This is a free verse poem, a poem that expresses a longing for something, a poem of admiration and a touch of jealousy.  Do you speak two languages?  For what do you long?  In such heart-echoes, we find poems.

This book written by Helen Recorvits and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska is one of my favorite books about learning a new language.

And a favorite bilingual children's poet?  Why, Pat Mora!  I have been reading Pat's wise book ZING: SEVEN CREATIVITY PRACTICES FOR EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS, and here is just one of her beautiful bilingual children's books, GRACIS/THANKS illustrated by John Parra.

Oh!  Today is the day after Groundhog Day.  If you're wondering what Phil is thinking right now, check out last year's poem, February 3.

Karissa is hosting today's Poetry Friday over at The Iris Chronicles. Head on over to taste this week's poetry delights!

(Please click on POST A COMMENT below to share a thought.)


  1. Thoughtful post, Amy! I have the deepest respect for folks fluent in more than one language - those who hold "two [or more!] countries in one mouth." Thanks for the book highlights, too.

  2. I also envy and admire bilingual speakers! Wonderful poem and I love the two books you highlighted today :).

  3. I grew up a bilingual speaker and was always embarrassed when I couldn't find the right word in the language I was speaking. Or I'd accidentally translate a figure of speech and people would stare at me trying to figure out what I was saying. :-) I would have loved to have seen this poem as a kid.

  4. I can still read another language but have lost much of the possibility of speech-too long, no practice. What a good poem of tribute to those with two (or more) languages. A friend from Norway used to speak suddenly in Norwegian & said she couldn't find the English for what she had to say! I have used the book My Name Is Yoon when I had students write about their names. It's wonderful. (Thanks also for the found 'suitcase' poem yesterday-so cute).

  5. Amy,

    I love your poem! "My Name is Yoon" is one of my favorite picture books.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience of living abroad, Amy. That adds another layer to your compassionate poem.

  7. I love the idea of being bilingual as singing two songs. I have a student now who is German but also speaks Portuguese as that is her mother's first language - so she speakers three languages, sings three songs...whew! I'll have to share your poem with her.

  8. My friend sings two songs...


  9. I love this! Lots of my students speak three or even more languages. It's so easy for them to feel that they are at a disadvantage when they struggle with English. I always try to encourage them about what riches they have.

  10. Oh, I love the idea of holding two countries in one mouth!

  11. Love the voice in the groundhog poem. :) And yes, to be bilingual... I am a huge fan of translations and have oft wished I had the skill to do some of my own. Alas.

  12. Dear Spanish Teacher Whose Comment Disappeared,
    You are welcome to make this into a poster, but I do not have it as a poster. Please just keep the formatting the same and keep my name on it if you would be so kind. Thank you.