A friend of mine, and a fellow teacher, David Durham is about to launch a Spanish class online. Many of you have been asking me… “Where do I go to learn Spanish?”
You have read my recommendations. Now, with exitement, I can add another recommendation.
David, like me, spent quite a bit of time in Europe. Also, like me, he has spent quite a bit of time in the classroom. He is now bringing that combined experience online.
I could use a refresher course in Spanish. Who knows? I may just join some of you in David’s online class!
And now, my good friend David Durham…
Let’s just get this out there: I’m an unapologetic language freak.
We all have our quirks. But I can point to a specific event that shaped my life perhaps more than any other single event.
At the age of nine, I was living in Perth, Western Australia with my parents and three brothers. For some reason I will always be grateful for, my parents decided to take the long way home to the States; rather than flying back, they decided to take a ship. So we boarded the HMS Canberra and set out across the Indian Ocean. Our first stops were my first exposure to other languages and cultures (unless you count Australian). I was enthralled with the chatter all around me, and my nine-year-old mind was blown away that they could understand each other! We made stops at ports in Sri Lanka, Yemen, and Egypt before leaving the ship in Naples, Italy and making our way through Europe by train. In each country, I listened to the language being spoken and did my best to imitate it. (Yeah, right.)
It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to study first Spanish, then French in school, and I took to them like a duck to water. When I got to college, I continued my study of French and Spanish and added a little German and Portuguese. (I became conversant in Portuguese in the most informal possible way: I had a number of friends who had grown up in Brazil, and I loved hearing them speak Portuguese together. I asked them to speak it with me, and they agreed!)
I later had the opportunity to live for several years in Europe, where I picked up Dutch and a little Italian. Am I completely fluent in all of these? No. Seven languages at seven different degrees of fluency. But I am conversant, and that is what I want to stress here:
A little goes a long way.
When you learn to speak another language, it opens up all kinds of doors. Not only doors to other cultures in general, and not only potentially beneficial career opportunities but doors to people’s hearts. It can lead to relationships that might not have been possible otherwise. I’ve spent many years singing and recording in French, and knowing the French-speaking world pretty well, I can tell you that I probably wouldn’t have earned the trust of thousands of French speakers if I didn’t relate to them in their own beautiful language.
But language also opens doors to strangers whose language you might only know a few words in. Everywhere I travel, I try to learn some basic phrases at the very least – greetings, and how to order tea are at the top of my list. Oh, and where to find the restroom. They of course know I’m a foreigner and don’t speak their language fluently, but the effort of speaking to them in their mother tongue can go a long way. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
My latest linguistic adventure is Arabic. I’m watching videos and have periodic tutoring sessions via Skype with a Syrian friend I made while visiting refugees in Germany.
What language(s) do you intend to become conversant in? Whatever you choose, it will add a whole new dimension to your life, and you will be the richer for it.
You can listen to David’s podcast episode on being a polyglot, as well as other episodes, here.