Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Habla Vous Something 'R Other?

When I was in school from kindergarten until the 7th grade, the idea that two languages could populate the same head was just absurd. Obviously it would cause your brain to overheat and you would die, right? Or perhaps something even more traumatic would happen. I mean, they weren't teaching it to us or even mentioning the existence of other languages, so that had to be the case.

Little did I know that kids in other countries had already learned multiple languages by that point. Most of them had even learned English, a language which after 12 years of study I was still dodgy with at best. But come 8th grade I would get my chance at multiple language mastery and it would be glorious.

Or it would have been if it hadn't been for... oh I don't know, the teen years. Good idea! Let's teach a bunch of kids something that requires a great amount of concentration when they are so jacked on hormones that they can barely think straight. Not to mention, with all the "umms" and "likes" and "oh my gods", we could barely hone in on our native language at that point.

My 8th grade Spanish class was about as productive as herding cats. Yeah, we learned how to say naughty words en espanol but that was about the extent of it. Year 2 was better, but our teacher mentally checked out in year 3 and just had us watch Spanish movies with English subtitles while he would stare dreamily out the window thinking about his retirement at the end of the semester. (However, thanks to him, I did get to see my first Almodovar film.) The two years of French I took were about as successful.

Now, due to my late start and somewhat lax learning environment, I can't communicate in either language (some question my communication skills in English as well, but those were ex-girlfriends, so I think they might have been referring to something else). Instead I speak a vile concoction called Frenglanish that confounds everyone who hears it, including me.

But it's time to get serious. I need both of those languages again, so I'm trying a few of the tools we have here. So far so good. But my brain does indeed feel like it is overheating, so I'm becoming concerned that I might have been right.
posted by jw