Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A TAL episode to try

Do you listen to This American Life? If you do, then maybe you've already heard this week's very affecting episode about a high school in Chicago where last year, 29 current/recent students were shot.

If you don't listen to the podcast in general, considering listening to this one (you can find it here). It is worth an hour of your time (two hours, probably, because there is a Part 2 coming out next week) for the following reasons, listed in decreasing order of triviality.

1. As a linguist who does not currently live in her home country, and thus is not exposed to many native American English accents, this podcast was a joy to listen to just for the sake of hearing something NEW. A lot of things we've talked about in theory in my recent MA classes were happening in real life in the podcast's recordings of people talking. Metathesis, African American Vernacular English, register-switching depending on the audience (pay attention to how the school guidance counselors talk to the students, and then how they talk to the reporter), etc. Fascinating.

2. Even though it was mostly a sad story, I was so interested in these people's lives because their high school experience is so different from how mine was. I mean, the basic structures are still there - cliques (except cliques = gangs there), classes, grades, sports, football - but the way in which the students interact with those structures is so different. It really made me think.

All of this is beside the point, because the most important thing I felt while listening to this podcast was that:

3. Here are adults who really care about the kids they are in charge of. I could hardly believe the dedication and love these administrators, teachers, and counselors showed for their charges. I can't imagine the toll it takes on their time and emotional resources. It was a ray of hope in a story that was otherwise kind of grim.

If you listen to this episode of This American Life and want to hear more, here are a few of my other favorite episodes from the past few years.

Will They Know Me Back Home?
What Doesn't Kill You
The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar
Mind Games


Liz Johnson said...

Sweet! I am always down for another podcast to listen to. I don't regularly listen to TAL, but maybe I'll have to start. I'm especially interested in this given my proximity to Chicago. Thanks for the heads up!

Do you have any other podcasts you regularly listen to?

Bridget said...

This American Life
How to do Everything
America Abroad
Movie BS w/Bayer and Snider
and recently, Radiolab.

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

Ooh, sounds interesting! I'll give it a listen! My husband grew up in the projects in Brooklyn NY, but has had so many lingual experiences elsewhere that I had NO idea that he was fluent in ebonics until after we were married and I heard him talking to his cousin on the phone. Pretty fascinating!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar is one of the most interesting stories I've ever heard. Perhaps I think that because I'm in the "business" of finding people, and figuring out who is who. I should listen to TAL regularly.

FYI, I just have to say, I found Grandpa W's long-lost nephew last week; Gpa hasn't seen or spoken to him since 1956.

Jen said...

Because I'm too lazy to hyperlink with html:


In addition to the podcasts you listed, have you tried Q or The Moth? If you like Radiolab, you'll like those. (And a high-five for How to do Everything. It's one of my favorites.)

Liz Johnson said...

I just listened to the Harper High podcasts - FASCINATING. So, so interesting. I'm really wondering what happened to the kid who accidentally shot his brother.


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