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Learn the value of a second language: Middlingo founders to speak at library

BRISTOL — The One World Library Project  has invited the public to attend “Middlingo — Teaching Chinese to Vermont Youth,” on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol.
As every parent knows, young people absorb language. Two Vermont women who grew up speaking Chinese, Joanna Doria of Ripton and May Poduschnik of Middlebury, decided to build on that notion by raising their children in a multilingual home. Friends, impressed by their successes, convinced the women to turn their language skills into a business, and thus Middlingo was formed.
Doria grew up speaking Mandarin with her Taiwanese mother and has visited Taiwan every year since she was 12. After graduating from Colby College, Doria taught ESL in Xiamen and Chinese at a private high school. She lives with her two children and spouse in Ripton and works at the North Branch School.
Poduschnick grew up in California, where there is a large pan-Asian and Latino community. She points out that, “Speaking a second language at home was common but not seen as an advantage.” In college, she came to appreciate all those Saturdays spent at Chinese school in her younger years. When her first child was born, she decided to make learning Chinese a priority. Her four children share a trilingual household in Middlebury with Poduschnick and her German husband. She is also involved with local playgroups, where she incorporates songs and movement elements into her language instruction.
At the One World presentation Doria and Poduschnik will give a 40-minute slide presentation about the value and process of teaching children a second or even third language, giving people the opportunity to learn more about foreign language acquisition and how local children are learning Chinese. Families with children of all ages are particularly encouraged to attend; child care in the form of language enrichment activities will be provided during the presentation.
Doria and Poduschnick founded Middlingo 18 months ago. Their afternoon programs at Mary Hogan and Bristol Elementary Schools are geared to children 3 to 12 years of age and serve both the after-school programs and the homeschool community. Since last autumn Middlingo has partnered with Project Pengyou (meaning “friend”) at Middlebury College, a student group focusing on U.S.-Chinese dialogue, friendship and understanding.
According to Project Pengyou president and Middlebury College sophomore Benjy Renton, this arrangement is a “perfect fit for students who have studied Chinese or who are Chinese speakers to share their knowledge with the local community and share their culture.” Renton will participate in the presentation.
It is Doria and Poduschnik’s experience that instruction in Chinese builds on young children’s aptitude for language while also enhancing other learning skills. Its roughly 3,000 individual characters promote visual learning. As a tonal language, early exposure lays the foundation for discerning sounds. Unlike English, Mandarin has both regular and logical patterns that students learn to integrate. As part of their instruction, children also learn about the richness of Chinese foods, customs and festivals.
During the slide show portion, children are invited to attend a special program with Bristol resident and parent Candy Jiang in the children’s library downstairs. Jiang, a native of Guangzhou in southern China, where Cantonese is spoken, will guide the children in Chinese songs and crafts activities, and they will be served a Chinese noodle bowl and other light snacks. After the slide presentation, parents and community members are invited to join the children downstairs for a Chinese snack and
sharing.
For more information about Middlingo, check out middlingo.com. For more information on this event or about One World Library Project, contact the Lawrence Memorial Library at 453-2366, go to OneWorldLibraryProject.org or to the One World Library Project Facebook page.

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