Post # 47
Yes, I think it’s important, but I find it hard to retain given that in the part of the US I live in I’m not exactly surrounded by people chattering in Spanish or signing ASL. Primarily here everyone speaks English, so if I wanted to practice the opportunities are slim. My husband and I get on a kick to speak in our limited foreign languages every now and then (and learn new ones) but without an actual native speaker around to guide you, it’s difficult to become truly fluent.
Post # 48
Not true. You may personally know more Americans who are trying to learn a second language than Europeans, the most recent statistics I could find are that about 8-10% of Americans speak more than 1 language; about 25% of British people; and about 50% of continental Europeans. Those statistics indicate the rates of bilingual folks in continental Europe have risen since the formation of the EU, which makes travel between and emigrating between European nations much easier. Since you have many different languages being spoken in a small geographical region, and because it’s easy to move between nations, people have more of an opportunity and more of a motivation to learn a new language.
I would be curious about those who feel it is important for Americans to learn additional languages as kids: would you be in favor of a tax increase if the money were dedicated to only funding language classes in public schools? And would your decision be based at all on what language were taught? Like, you’d be in favor of higher taxes if public school kids learned Spanish but not if they learned Hindi, or you’d be in favor regardless of the language taught.
Post # 49
PS I took Latin, of all things, in high school. And hated every minute of it! But I can pick up any Latin-based language in a jiffy now.
Post # 50
Yes, absolutely! It’s vitally necessary! The best reason for that is that your understanding of language in general and particularly English. I was amazed at the nuances I could recognize in English once I learned Spanish!
I think it’s important to learn other languages in general, but in the U.S. it’s very useful to speak Spanish. These are our nearest neighbors and there are a lot of Spanish speaking people in this country.
My Fiance speaks Spanish, as does his whole family. His Spanish isn’t great, though. I will be sending my children to Spanish classes at the earliest possible age. That combined with immersion with their grandparents and other relatives. I want to give that tool to them so they have that advantage!
Post # 51
Absolutely. I wouldn’t have a job right now if I didn’t speak a foreign language. We’re in a global economy these days, and communication is vitally important. I also wouldn’t have ever gotten to know my best friend if I didn’t speak her language.
But I was a foreign language teacher for two years, so I might be biased. 🙂
Post # 52
I think it is really important. I think it should be taught in all schools from an early age.
Post # 53
Being bilingual and learning a second language is a completly different thing. You are raised a bilingual usually because your parents speak to different languages (this is considered to be “ideal bilinguism”) or because your parents are foreigners (simultaneous bilinguism). So of course in europe there are going to be more bilinguals given how easy it is to travel and move compared to the states.
I was talking about learning a foreign language, granted in europe it is much easier to achieve but I feel that most americans who travel here are convinced that all europeans speak at least two languages which is simply not true at least in southern europe . In Italy for example everyone studies english in school but the results are sadly quite bad, the level achieved is low and most teachers are not mother tongue speakers and extremly underqualified for the job. Same goes for Spain.
So yes americans may not study languages in school (or at least less) but some parts of europe are no better.
Also i’ve learnt that statistics can be very flawed!
Post # 54
YES. I took German for five years…not the most practical choice, but I learned a lot about my heritage that way. I also traveled to Germany and Spain and learned a lot from those experiences.
I also think that sign language should be offered in more schools as a foreign language option, but that’s just me.
Post # 55
My grandparents spoke Italian, not so much my dad because when they came to the United States they learned AND spoke English. I think it is a plus for everyone to know something other than their native language.
Post # 56
If we want children to learn more than one language in school (and in America, it makes sense for kids to learn either Spanish or Mandarin), we need to find teachers to teach them. And that requires better recruiting of teachers…and that will bring me into a whole conversation about how deplorable the state of American education is.
Post # 57
The best way to learn a language is through immersion, but since that’s not always possible I’d first try to a language program–either through a university or a language program. You can also try listening to Polish music, finding shows/movies (especially kid shows) in Polish online, looking at news websites.
It sounds sily, but I own that movie Across the Universe (it’s the one with all the Beatles songs) dubbed in Russian. It’s easy to follow because I know the songs & since Beatles songs aren’t overly complicated, it’s easy to pick out the words.
You can also try to find a language partner–see if you can find someone to tutor you or if you’re in an area that has a lot of immigrants try to find someone who will speak Polish with you for 30 minutes if you speak English with them for 30 minutes.
Also, don’t listen to anyone who tells you that it’s too late to learn a language. I’ve tried that one on my professors numerous times–it didn’t work. You can learn a langauge at any age if you put the work in.
If you need any other suggestions let me know!
Post # 58
I think it’s super super important! I’d actually like to know three or four languages!
My minor is in Spanish, and I’m planning to spend about 6 weeks in Spain next summer.
Creo que estudiar español me ha ayudado a aprender más sobre mi propia lengua, tambien. 🙂