This book relates the author's stories about how languages have integrated her being, and defined and formed her sense of self. The idea of writing autobiographical stories of her multilingual life came from her long-term commitment to foreign language teaching and from a recent, extremely rich and valuable experience teaching English to immigrants in the U.S. While reading and studying various aspects of second-language-related-theory -- linguistics, psychology, anthropology, and sociolinguistics literature -- the author realized how estranged language learners are from all the research, speculations, hypotheses, and achievements of scholarship.
A Russian immigrant, the author tells stories to her ESL students to help them understand why and at what price successful language acquisition and acculturation is realistic. Not only can students learn from her stories which encourage discoveries about their own behaviors or problems, but they might want to respond and tell about their own struggles with a foreign language. By becoming writers and interpreters of her text and by making it their own, students can construct their own virtual texts. The stories told throughout are those of a language learner, who is also a linguist and language teacher. As such, they can bridge the gap between second language research and practical teaching and learning. Moreover, this book can help initiate language learners along with their teachers into scholarship.
Second language teachers and graduate students preparing for a teaching career might see this book as an illustration and validation of the studied theory and an inner voice of their students at the same time. Multidisciplinary by nature, it can also be used in several college courses such as cultural anthropology, anthropo- and socio-linguistics, sociology, multicultural education, ethnography, bilingualism, and the study of immigrant experience. There are numerous applications of the book in the educational field at various levels of adult learning programs which might be determined by the objectives and by the instructor's vision of it in the curriculum. It is also intended as a message to the general public and to all thinking individuals in search of identity. It will popularize the idea of the importance of foreign language learning, language education, linguistic literacy, and metalinguistic awareness, of illuminating self-discovery through the treasure of multilingual experience, capable of giving birth to a new, sophisticated, spiritually complex and enriched multicultural identity.
"…a formal, demonstration of the cognitive dissonance Natasha Lvovich painstakingly explores in her sensitive, introspective, and gently humorous memoir."
The Multilingual Self" teaches, inspires and empowers language learners and educators alike. This book can be included in the curricula of ESOL and BE classes.
"Teachers of ESL will enjoy Lvovich, the storyteller. Students of ESL will appreciate the hones depiction of language learning. Everyone will acknowledge this universal experience of creating an identity. I highly recommend it to all."
"…a very well-written account, of experiences of learning and living which are more dramatic than any I have ever had to cope with, but which I can understand and empathise with, and finally marvel at….The writing itself is evocative and skillful, retaining just a trace of foreignness that seems to add an extra measure of authenticity to the authorial voice. The result is an intriguing and sometimes moving book which contributes on a variety of levels to our understanding of each other."
"The Multilingual Self is a story to inspire second language learners and teachers, but it is also a poignant reminder to a nation of immigrants of how hard that journey to America actually is."
"Like Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation, Alice Kaplan's French Lessons, and Liu Zongren's Two Years in the Melting Pot, this story of language and culture acquisition is a useful case study for students and teachers. The exceptionally rich, evocative prose will make good reading for anyone interested in language acquisition."
College of Staten Island, CUNY
"…An intriguing approach for understanding the process of language acquisition. Lvovich's 'stories'…provide genuinely lived and complex details of what it feels like, what it took, what made it possible, to acquire another language."
University of Massachusetts
Contents: S. Benesch, Foreword. Preface. My French Self. Confessions of a Synesthete. "Magister of the Game." Messengers and Mediators. French Connection. Language Acquisition by Stomach. My Italian Self. American Diary. Healing. French Disease. Driver's License. Frank or Pete? Interculture. Russian as a Second Language.