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Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.
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Karen Cherian, 17, is valedictorian at Hillsborough High School’s Class of 2005 International Baccalaureate program. She scored 1550 on the SAT exam and is a National Merit Finalist. Some of her academic achievements include being a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and History Honor Society.

Karen Cherian
She has been involved in research at the Sleep Center at University Community Hospital in Tampa and tutored math and algebra at the Urban Scholars Outreach Program at University of South Florida. Cherian was accepted to Harvard, Duke, Yale, Princeton and Johns Hopkins universities among others. She has decided to pursue further education at University of Miami, seven-year medical program. She hopes to become a physician and wants to specialize in neurosurgery.

Her hobbies include playing tennis, learning guitar and Indian dancing.

As for her future plans, Cherian says, “If God has given you a talent, the least you can do is use it to help others.”

By Teesta Sullivan

Teesta Sullivan
There are several factors that motivate a parent to raise a bilingual child. Two common ones are the bilingual home situation and the bilingual setting.

A bilingual home situation occurs when parents speak different languages, and wish to raise their child with an understanding of both (i.e. father may speak Hindi, mother may speak Tamil). The bilingual setting occurs when parents wish to use one language at home though they live in an area that predominantly uses another language.

In the past, educators discouraged teaching young children a second language. Popular theories proposed that bilingualism was a handicap to a child’s future abilities. Some early studies on bilingual children noted a difference between the verbal IQ scores of bilinguals and monolinguals, with the monolinguals receiving higher scores. These results were later rejected as being flawed because of the inadequacies of the tests themselves.

Today, we believe that bilingualism can have positive results on a child’s cognitive development, as well as on his or her self-esteem and future marketability in the work force. According to Carey Myles, author of “Raising Bilingual Children,” “Bilingualism has been linked to a variety of positive cognitive benefits, including early reading, improved problem-solving skills, and higher scores on the SATs, including the math section.”

Myles goes further to state that bilingual children show “better listening perception” and “recognize earlier than monolingual children do that language is symbolic … and … are more skilled at interpreting and manipulating grammar to communicate clearly.”

What can parents do to effectively teach their child two or more languages? The Linguistic Society of America suggests that both exposure and need are important to successful language acquisition. A child should not only be exposed to the languages from a young age but he or she should need to use the languages to communicate with those around them. The challenge is to comfortably incorporate the “other” language in such a way that it becomes a natural part of daily life.

One difficulty parents often face is that the “other” language, which often is the parents’ native language, can become perceived as less important, if it is not used consistently and frequently. Speaking personally, I can remember my parents speaking to me in Hindi, and my responding in English. The English words came more easily to me though Hindi was my primary language until the age of four.

Another challenge to combat is code switching. This refers to substituting a word in one language, with the appropriate word in the other language. This often occurs when one language is dominant over another; subsequently the words from the dominant language come more readily to mind.

Ultimately, exposing children from a young age to different languages is the most important step we can take to try and help them become multilingual. When a child hears a language, the tonal sounds become incorporated into his or her brain neurology, making it easier to replicate the sounds of that language later in life. Play songs, movies, speak and with language, as all other types of learning, expose your children to as much as possible.


Teesta Sullivan has a JD, a MSH and B.A. in Psychology. She is the area developer for FasTracKids and also president of Legendary Beginnings Inc., an authorized licensee of FasTracKids. She can be reached at (813) 792-0077.

Know of any youth who have won an award or have a recent accomplishment? Send in your news on youth to Shephali J. Rele, Khaas Baat, 18313 Cypress Stand Circle, Tampa, FL 33647 or e-mail Be sure to include school name, grade and age.

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