What do you think? Is learning a foreign language an important area of study for you? Why or why not? Tell me why you are interested or not interested? Let’s compare feelings for those for and those against learning a new language. It could be our own personal survey. If you know another language what are the benefits you feel you have over those who don’t know one? Do any of you who don’t know another language feel left out of anything?
A businessman I was talking to yesterday was telling me that when he was younger he joined the U.S. Navy and had traveled to most of the ports in South America during his term of duty. He started dating a lovely girl from Peru. She spoke English and the romance carried on until they finally married. They now have two handsome boys … twins. He said, “Is it hard for someone my age (42 year) to learn Spanish?” “We get along fine until my wife’s parents come to visit, they only speak Spanish, and I would really like to be able to talk to them.”
I know how he feels. My son married a girl from Chile and her grandmother came to stay with them for quite a while. She is one of the most kindly, gentle lovely ladies I have ever met. But she spoke no English. Our conversations went something like this. I would call on the phone. She would answer. I could hear Spanish coming at me at about 100 mph, understanding nothing. She would stop. I would say “chow” and the conversation was over. Many times I wanted to be able to communicate with her … but I don’t know Spanish well enough.
I talked to a fellow the other day who wanted to know what Russian courses I would recommend for a girl from the Ukraine to learn English. They were to be married in the next month. She is coming to the U.S. and wants to be able to talk with him. I don’t know how they ever got together, he didn’t tell me that, but my thought was that it would be a good idea for him to learn some Russian himself.
An elementary principal I know told me about the Chinese immersion course they have at her school. I asked, “How do the kids like it?” She said, “They love Chinese. You can’t believe how fast they have picked it up. They spend half of their time learning in English and the other half in Chinese.” Can you imagine learning and speaking Chinese? Wow!
The state of Wyoming State Legislature is working on legislation that will mandate two foreign language courses be required and passed for anyone receiving a scholarship to their state colleges and universities. We all ought to follow this to see what happens. Apparently there are some of their state government representatives that feel this is very important for their scholarship students.
As our world gets smaller and smaller and we go places faster and faster it would be a good idea for all of us to learn an additional language or two, just so we can find the bathroom, restaurant or get on the bus.