As a writer I know that plenty of what comes out of my pen (or keyboard) never sees the light of day. Sometimes I have to cut entire paragraphs or pages–even ones I really like–simply because they don’t serve the overall purpose of the story or article. In my case these get relegated to a file called “leftovers” and spend purgatory in my computer hoping to be called up another day. Sadly, I don’t think that day has come for any of my leftovers, but I still can’t bear to throw them away.
When people make a film, a similar thing happens, but on a much grander scale. Filmmakers spend hundreds of hours and many more dollars scouting locations, receiving permission, employing a crew, hiring equipment, and setting up lighting and sound gear to shoot many hours of footage, comparatively few minutes of which make it into the final version of their films. Those hours in the editing room letting go of great stuff that just won’t fit or that has to be sacrificed so other points can be made must be much more painful than my cutting and pasting into a ‘leftover’ file because that work represents so much effort and energy from so many people.
Fortunately, we now have the Internet, and some of those great scenes can now be seen and shared. Material that didn’t make the cut or caused the story to stray can now enhance viewers’ experience of the finished product–just like dvd extras do. Speaking in Tongues filmmakers Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider have recently posted ten of these video extras on the Speaking in Tongues site. (Make sure to use the scroll bar on the right of the screen so you can watch them all.)
The extras run the gamut from Mimi Met, Senior Research Associate at the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland, discussing the importance of multilingualism in creating a more peaceful world to educator Laura Ringard expanding on the value of bilingualism for enhancing cognitive function. A Mandarin immersion kindergarten class joyfully sings a children’s song with their teacher, and a 3rd grade science class measures and discusses the progress of plants in their garden entirely in Cantonese. The extras also delve into more controversial topics such as the lag in standardized test scores of immersion students who are taught in the target language but tested in English before they have received as much instruction in that language as their monolingual peers. A touching episode on integration and immersion features a Spanish-speaking mother who decides to enroll her daughter in a Mandarin immersion program as well as insight from an African American mother and a school employee about how learning a second language can open new opportunities for children.
I hope you have a look and that these extras help answer some questions that Speaking in Tongues may have raised for you. Spread the word to family and friends and let us know what you think about these videos in the comment section below.
And just for fun, check out this excellent audio extra in the form of a World in Words podcast from Public Radio International’s The World and Patrick Cox. Cox devotes about half the show to Speaking in Tongues, interviewing Ken and Marcia as well as their younger son Jaden, who points out that it’s useful for he and his brother to be able to communicate in a language their parents can’t understand. No doubt that’s true!