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  • Do you speak American? is a documentary that explores regional and social variation in English, including ethnic, gender, and age-related differences. It also considers bilingual varieties of American English involving Spanish and French. A viewer’s guide and curriculum units for high school and college classes written by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) are available free of charge at:
  • •—Cultural Survival is an advocacy group that partners with indigenous peoples to defend their lands, languages, and cultures.


  • 1. How widespread is bilingualism in the world? How is bilingualism a language contact phenomenon? What brings about language contact in different countries? Are some forms of bilingualism more stable than others?
  • 2. Bilingualism is considered a valuable asset in many European and African countries but is often treated as a problem in the U.S. Why might this be? What kind of bilingualism is considered desirable in the United States?
  • 3. In the video Do you speak American? Robert MacNeil says, “Americans are ambivalent about language. They may think that New York and Southern accents are bad English but they can also find them charming.” Do you agree that people have ambivalent attitudes toward language? In your opinion, is your own variety of English prestigious or stigmatized?
  • 4. What is your personal experience with bilingualism? Have societal attitudes toward the languages you speak affected your language maintenance or shift?
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