I usually begin my posts with a quote related in some way to the post I have written. Today, I present something different: Gathering your thoughts regarding a quote related to foreign language learning.
Here is a famous quote, by then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama, on the campaign trail:
Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English — they’ll learn English — you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.
You know, it’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], “Merci beaucoup.” Right?
You know, no, I’m serious about this. We should understand that our young people, if you have a foreign language, that is a powerful tool to get a job. You are so much more employable. You can be part of international business. So we should be emphasizing foreign languages in our schools from an early age, because children will actually learn a foreign language easier when they’re 5, or 6, or 7 than when they’re 46, like me.
Americans are constantly being slammed for their inability to speak another language. To a large extent, I think that this criticism is justified.
As a foreign language teacher and as a US citizen, I think the President’s comments, made about a year ago, are on the money.
In addition to the benefits of bilingualism cited by the President, the most important, at least to me, is the intercultural connection one can have with others, which can be so very gratifying.
What do you think?