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Thursday, September 17, 2009

 

Learning a New Language

by LuAnn Schindler

This morning, I attended a foreign language class at an area high school. My assignment: interview the teacher and students about why this language is important and worth learning. What's unique is that the language is Chinese, and the school is located in the middle of Northeast / North Central Nebraska.

How does this relate to writing? It's interesting; the instructor handed me a sheet of paper and a 'pen' resembling a paint brush and told me to work along with the students, drawing the Chinese words for numbers one through ten and the directions.

Later in the class, she shared a slide show with famous places to visit in China. Each slide had English and Chinese writing, as well as gorgeous photographs. At the end, she played a clip of a Chinese acrobatic troupe, similar to the Cirque Shanghai show I saw in Chicago this summer. Spectacular! When I asked her what her goals were, she said to give students a hook of culture and then reel them in to learn the language. I think she's succeeding.

She hooked me.

As a former teacher, I can't stress enough the importance of life-long learning. According to the instructor, one of every five people in the world know Chinese. Think about the career possibilities: translators, writers - in every genre, travel guides. The list of opportunities is endless.

As a writer, it may seem like there isn't enough time to squeeze in time for a class of any kind. I look at my schedule and wonder when I'll ever get caught up with my writing obligations and contemplate adding another element to the mix. But, if I want to remain marketable and open new doors, I should investigate learning another language.

You never know where the world of language may take you.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Kim said...

I totally agree with you. Learning a new language, I think, is a win/win endeavor.
I know only English and I am Canadian. When we travelled through Quebec last year, I felt a bit lost. It was like being in another country.
Chinese, however, would be the ultimate challenge - good for you to take it on - I hope you enjoy your course!

4:52 AM  
Blogger Miss Footloose said...

Hailing from the Netherlands, I studied German, French and English in school, a survival technique for the Dutch, obviously, because hey, who speaks Dutch.

Now, I don't really speak French but I can read and understand quite a bit. I can mess around in German and so on. I also learned a few words in Spanish along the way.

Well, what happened in my life is that I ended up marrying a globetrotting American and we've lived in various countries where I would do the shopping and when you're in a place like Armenia, and you're looking at the stuff on the shelf that's imported from say Denmark or Italy it sure comes in handy that you can piece together the contents and instructions on the labels with a little imagination and the knowledge of some other related/similar languages. You don't need to be fluent for this to be very handy.

And, for us who are no longer spring chickens, learning a foreign language is one of the best ways to keep the brain cells alive and dancing. I've been learning a bit of Italian. It is so beautiful, and it helps on vacation!

Ciao,

Miss Footloose
www.lifeintheexpatlane.blogspot.com

6:33 AM  

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