Why and How are always the most interesting questions… aren’t they?
On Tuesday I posted the “#1 reason to learn a foreign language“, and honestly, I posted it not so much because I believe there is a #1 reason but to engender discussion, disagreement, or to maybe even inspire a bit of devil’s advocate à la Chia Suan Chong. For what it’s worth, sometimes I like stepping a bit out on the edge to shake things up in the hopes that when all settles we’ve all learned a bit more.
So, let’s shake things up with our different stories as there is no single why, or how to learn a language, though we’ll all have different thoughts on what they may be.
I challenge you to blog a story of your language learning, be it a success or a story about what didn’t work for you OR for your students if you’d like.
My language journey can be traced back to my very early days, though it was not then that I started learning; that was just when I started wanting to learn.
Let’s drift back 25 years, and sail from my current home in Paris over the Altantic, past Boston and New York and Washington…finally getting towards the “Mid-West” and plopping down among the corn fields of South-Eastern Ohio.
There we can see a mini Brad playing with a few buddies, and fuming with envy. Why? My childhood neighbors, little Tommy and Jimmy grew up in a bilingual environment. Sometimes amongst themselves, or especially when we were at their house, these two little boys would employ a “secret” language of which I understood nothing. Well… nothing besides “A Yung Ay See O (hello)” and “Kim Chi”, a preserved vegetable that is heaven to some and torture to others. Me = Heaven.
Korean, their secret language was the coolest spy toy a little boy could imagine. I had to have it. NOW, zip back 15 years and plop back down in the southern France among the Alps and there I am, sitting in a French high school without a single person I know.
To explore, both others and myself, to have an adventure, to accomplish what none of my classmates had: to become fluent in a foreign language… but somewhere in the Freudian background there was also this childhood story that drove me towards language in an envy-spy-adventurous way. We all have a past that lives forward with us; it is an amazing and complicated bond to understand and to unravel, but I have no doubt that my days with Tommy and Jimmy set me off on a journey that took me to France and on many other language adventures since.
So that’s my why(s), and for my HOW… let’s go with how I learned Chinese which I think is worth another post altogether cuz it’s a good story. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing some of your whys and hows.