I have always been intrigued listening to people who were able to speak in other languages, fluently, and dreamed about conversing and understanding a foreign language someday. Speaking and understanding another language has always been a personal goal of mine.
My parents lived in Germany for several years, so growing up I heard them occasionally speak German to each other. When we traveled to Germany on vacation, I admired how they could talk casually with their friends, how they were able to order dinner in a restaurant, or buy something at the store. They then had to translate what everyone was saying. I practiced a few words and phrases that my mom taught me and then tried to use them, for example, when I bought a pretzel at the train station or bought a few souvenirs for my friends. It was NOT perfect, but it was exciting to know that they understood what I said in those unfamiliar words.
In elementary and middle school, we had Spanish language lessons for 1 hour everyday. In high school, I decided that I wanted to learn the French language. I liked the way that it sounded, thought it was very cool. After four years of French class, I realized how little I knew and that I wasn’t able to speak that well . I only understood bits and pieces of a conversation when I heard someone else speak it or heard it on the radio. I live in a town that is very close to Canada so we can pick up a few French speaking radio stations when driving around my town. But what I have come to realize is that I actually do speak and understand other languages, much better than the French I studied.
What I mean is that I found that I have knowledge of other languages through other things that I have studied, grown up with, or been exposed to in various ways, i.e., digital media, math, and the language of medicine, for example. I am a part of Generation Z, so I have grown up with iPhone, laptops, Instagram, snap chat, photoshop, youtube, etc, so I am very familiar with the language of computers or personal digital devices. I feel very “tech savvy” when I help my mother understand Google Docs. I like math, and have taken math for over 12 years now. I understand what is meant by functions, fractions, sets, or differential equations. In my senior year, I decided to take a class called Language of Medicine. It turned out to be my favorite class. I found it very interesting, useful, and that it had really expanded my understanding of the information that I came across in my life everyday. I can now understand many of the medical terms on my own medical records, when speaking with my doctor or dentist, or even when I am watching a tv show like Gray’s Anatomy.
The more that I am out in the world, I understand that learning another language is so much more than learning to “Parlez-vous francais?” I have achieved my personal goal of learning another language. I plan to continue to learn and improve my language abilities, and of course, I will keep the dream alive and try to master the French language…..someday.