Little Linguaphiles (or not)

I’m jealous of my students.

I was 15 years old when I started learning French, and it took me 8 years to become good at it.

There are students in my kindergarten class who speak no French, but I know that by the time they’re in first grade they’ll be semi-fluent. In other words, it will take them one year to learn what it took me 8 years to learn. And their language skills will be developmentally appropriate. Instead of cramming 20 year old thoughts into (maybe) 15 year old language skills like I did for a while, they’ll be caught up to themselves.

There are a zillion articles about how learning a second language is good for your brain. Most of them say something like: it connects the parts of our brains better. It makes us more flexible. It makes us more precise with our words. In my personal experience, I can’t really compare my brain with someone else’s — but, speaking another language has helped me become more thoughtful and articulate than I was before. It made me love words. And, I wouldn’t have been able to have half the experiences I had abroad without my hard-earned skillz. Just that makes it all worth it!

Some of the children who are still learning French are already bilingual (Spanish-English! Japanese-English! Chinese-English!). In a year or two at the school, they’ll be trilingual. Maybe they’ll be true polyglots (I met a girl abroad who spoke SEVEN languages! Fluently!)

This is the future of the world. We need more people to be bi- and tri-lingual. The U.S. is known abroad for having poor language skills…maybe this is changing. One school at a time. I’ve even heard of Japanese and Mandarin immersion programs in the Seattle area, which is cool too. The more diversity, the better!

Maybe I should have learned a different one. In one of my old diaries, from when I was 6, I wrote:


Ah, the irony, given how my life has turned out.

I’ve had a couple of the kids tell me the same thing: “but I don’t want to learn French!”

Cue heartbreak…until I rediscovered my journal. Maybe one day their tune will change.

Little Linguaphiles (or not)