f understanding our neighbors

Understanding our neighbors

An important first step of understanding is getting to know our neighbors. Another part of understanding is being able to understand the speech and dialect of people we are visiting with. We often make quick judgments about people by the way they talk. If they don't speak English fluently, we may make inaccurate judgments about their intelligence. This exercise provides opportunities for both of these kinds of understanding by listening to various accents, reading about and then interviewing a person from a culture different from your own.

Speech-language pathologists are often asked to assist individuals who wish to modify their accent. This project provides opportunity for students to learn about this expanding group of our neighbors in Minnesota.

The three largest immigrant populations in Minnesota are Russian, Somali, and Hmong and the fastest growing non-Caucasian population in Minnesota is Latino.

The three largest international student population groups at Minnesota State University, Mankato are from Japan, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Learn how many people in Minnesota and in Blue Earth County speak Russian, Somali, Hmong/Lao, Spanish, Nepali, Urdu, and Japanese by searching on the MLA Language Map Data Center a part of the The Modern Language Association Language Map project which is very interesting to explore. Include the data in your written response described below.

There are two interesting sites on the Internet where you can listen to speech accents. Check them out and see if you can find an accent similiar to your own.

Transcribe the following passage into your own dialect: Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store. Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station. Now, listen to the segments of native speakers from Russia, Laos, Somali, Mexico, Japan, Pakistan, and Nepal reading the passage you have transcribed of your own dialect. Notice the phonetic rendering of each segment. Choose one of the segments and compare and contrast it to your own dialect, phoneme by phoneme. What differences in sound production did you discover? Listen also to the prosody of the audio clip. Even in such a short segment, were you able to identify any differences in prosody?

Read the information on the United Way of the Twin Cities site that provides basic information about the largest immigrant groups of people in Minnesota.

On the following sites, read about the culture of each of the three largest groups of international students on our campus, as linked below. Also take a look at the information provided about the people and the language for each group.

Finally, interview someone on campus or in Mankato who speaks with one of the accents you listened to on the Internet

  1. Review the Questions to Guide You in Learning About a Person's Culture. Select 8-10 of these questions (more if you want, but choose at least 8) plus add any other questions that you would like to ask. Develop a written set of interview questions that you plan to use in your interview. You do not need to ask all these questions or ask them in the order you have them listed, as you will find that if you use open-ended questions they lead to other questions based on the person's response.
  2. Interview a suitable person using the questions you have prepared. Although it is very useful to take notes in the interview and/or tape record the interview, you need to be sensitive to how the person may react if you do this as well as to how it will influence you if you are taking notes as you do the interview. It may be advantageous do this assignment in pairs, so one of you can write while the other asks questions.
What you should turn in:
  1. One page where you have transcribed your production of the passage and listed the sounds that were in the sample you chose that do not appear in your dialect and the sounds in your dialect that do not appear in the dialect you chose to analyze. Make a statement comparing their dialect with the dialect you heard on the internet. Include the information you found about how many people in Minnesota and Blue Earth county speak each of the languages you listened to.
  2. One page on which you list of the questions you planned to ask in the interview, noting which ones you actually ended up asking, adding in any others that you included impromptu during the interview.
  3. Analysis of the interview in 1-2 pages, single-spaced summarizing the information you learned about the individual's accent and culture.

Listen to Alan Badmington's poem, Everyone's Different. Listen to his accent and to his message. In a sentence or two, tell me what you thought of both.

Be prepared to hand in the assignment and discuss your findings in class November 22, 2004.

The picture included on this page is from http://www.msstate.edu/org/dgc/Index.html

The interview was adapted from Kajsa Higgins & Helen Mongan-Rallis' course - Educ 1100 Human Diversity & PEA 299 Intercultural Understanding and Competence: Spring 2004 - Vaxjo University - http://www.d.umn.edu/~hrallis/courses/1100sp04/schedule.html