When talking to people from the U.S. about foreign languages, this is a typical conversation I find myself engaging in.
As you start mapping out your class schedule for the fall, deciding how many a cappella groups you can join and exactly what number of hours you can go without sleeping, it seems like as good a time as ever to start thinking about that language you’ve been studying.
Generally when discussing learning a language, the first things we are told are all about how being bilingual will make us smarter, how much more money we will make with this new ability, or perhaps even how it will keep our brains young.
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“There is debate about whether empathy is something that can be taught. I believe we can teach empathy by listening to and learning from people who are different from us. By asking questions. By meeting others on their level. By immersing ourselves in another culture.
glob·al mind·set, n: the ability to operate comfortably across borders, cultures, and languages That’s what Stacie Nevadomski Berdan and Mashall S. Berdan think is missing for too many American children. And it’s holding us back.
So you slept through two years of Spanish in high school to meet your graduation requirements, only to find out that when you got to college, you had another foreign language requirement to complete! You just need to meet the minimum requirement of 2 more years — that shouldn’t be so bad…
College course catalogues can be overwhelming. There are so many concepts to learn, so many worlds to explore, and so many professors to befriend, yet so little time to do it all. It’s no wonder, then, that learning a language sometimes sinks to the bottom of our list of priorities.
A few years ago, I heard a joke that I didn’t find all that funny: If you call a person who speaks 2 languages “bilingual” and a person who speaks 3 languages “trilingual,” what do you call a person who only speaks 1 language?
“The United States may be the only nation in the world where it is possible to complete secondary and postsecondary education without any foreign language study whatsoever.” — Leon Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense