Kim Potowski urges attitude change toward language diversity
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Caroline Bressman , Contributing Writer
October 8, 2012 • 241 views
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On Thursday, Sept. 27, St. Olaf hosted Dr. Kim Potowski of the University of Illinois at Chicago to speak in Viking Theater. Potowski has a long list of outstanding credentials, including her titles as associate professor of linguistics at the university, executive editor of Spanish In Context and director of the Heritage Language Cooperative in Chicago. She has advocated for Multilingual Chicago, a grassroots effort to symbolically declare the city as multilingual, despite Illinois’s official status as an English-only state. Additionally, Potowski received a Fulbright Teaching Grant for the academic year 2011-2012 in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Potowski’s talk, titled “When ‘Foreign’ Languages Aren’t Foreign: The Value of Heritage Speakers in the United States,” centered on the importance of a multilingual community. Potowski argued that linguistic diversity in this nation is not a problem; rather, it is a resource. She recognizes the need for English proficiency in minority groups, but asserts that the U.S. should preserve the right to maintain heritage languages.