Press Release: Ping & the Snirkelly People
Contact Information: amnfn @ well dot com.
For Immediate Release.
Texas County, Missouri.
Every year, thousands of children start off to first grade in the United States who do not speak a word of English. In many cases, these are the children of immigrants who have not been exposed to English prior to enrollment in school. But besides the foreign children who are perfectly fluent in their own language, and the children of linguistic minorities who have not had the opportunity to interact with others outside their own group, there are also American children whose parents speak only English, but who have language disabilities and impairments that prevent them from acquiring their home language. Sometimes educators have trouble telling the difference, and so perfectly able children are sent to "special education" classes along with children who have serious disabilities or developmental delays.
Ping & the Snirkelly People is a chapter book about a Chinese little girl learning English by total immersion in a first grade class in the United States. This book explores how it feels to be suddenly unable to express oneself, despite being an intelligent, even precocious child. Author Aya Katz, a linguist, drew upon her own experiences as a monolingual Hebrew speaker starting to school in a Romeoville, Illinois classroom in 1966. The story dramatizes both the social isolation and the linguistic puzzle of language learning that every such child has to face.
This book is a must-read for ESL students, ESL teachers and even for the classmates of children who find themselves facing such a challenge.
The Book Trailer for Ping & the Snirkelly People
Ping & the Snirkelly People
Books by Aya Katz
The Prognosis for Language Learning in the Classroom
At age six, children learn fast. They are able to acquire total fluency in a foreign language in a matter of months, not because of any special effort on the part of educators, but because the brain plasticity of a very young child allows for it.
Years after her successful experience with English, the author of Ping & the Snirkelly People faced a similar challenge trying to learn Chinese in Taiwan. While her advanced years did not allow for the same kind of experience as she had had in childhood, the events in Taiwan reminded the author of what had happened long ago in that Illinois classroom and compelled her to write this book.
There are things about English that we can know only when we stand outside the language and look in. Children who are bilingual have certain advantages in understanding how languages work, and they can share these insights with their classmates, if this is encouraged by educators.
Ping & the Snirkelly People is a dramatic unfolding of cultural and linguistic information that will help both adults and children to explore the mysteries of language learning, of reading, spelling and morphology, and of daring to look at life from more than one point of view.
Recommended for children and adults. Minimum reading level: third grade. This book can also be read aloud to younger children.
© 2011 Aya Katz