Friday, January 8, 2010

English as a Second Language?

I've been listening to my new itunes diligently (if listening can be diligent). Rammstein did quite a bit of recording in Mexico & they have a few songs where there is blatant Spanish influence. There's one song on the Album, Rosenrot, that is in Spanish. As an Hispanic woman, I was amazed to hear Germans singing so well in Spanish.

I was lucky. I was raised hearing a few different languages, so German, Slavish & Spanish come very easily to me. Not many people have that opportunity. I know I am blessed to have had that experience.

Hearing Rammstein sing so well in Spanish really got me thinking. I remember how horrible the kids in high school & college were with linguistics. Ironically, English has some very strong Spanish roots. These kids couldn't speak it worth a lick, though.

That brought about an interesting line of thought. If our language (it's not official, though. The US has no declared official language) has such strong roots, why is it that we don't teach our children better when it comes to foreign languages.

It is a well known fact that the earlier you start with kids in hearing & speaking foreign languages, it boosts their IQ, and it helps them to be more successful adults. We live in a global world now. Chances of you doing business with a person or company on another continent are high. Yet, we Americans expect the world to speak our language. Our version of English. What is up with that?

We don't rule the world, folks. Just as much as they (they being anyone who is not from an English-speaking country/culture) need to learn English, we need to learn their languages!

Yes, English is my primary language with Spanish being a close second. German and Slavish are much farther down, but they were all learned at the same time: since birth! I heard words and phrases from all of them throughout my childhood. I believe that has helped me greatly in life. I continue to try to study languages and to learn new words or phrases in any of my fantastic four. ;)

I try to integrate some Slavish and Spanish into the house when I can. The little miss needs to learn other languages. I'm not just saying that to fluff up my own ethnic feathers. The reality is: that little girl will be dealing with more Hispanic people in her life than I am related to! :) She needs it to prepare her for the world.

So many people are up in arms about hearing different languages spoken here in the US. These people are quite passionate about their belief. I am not going to say there is anything wrong with their belief. A belief is a belief. As a good libra, I can see both sides of this coin. However, I think we need to get rid of the "ugly American" stereotype and start making our children more international. What is so wrong with multi-lingual people? Nothing!

English is an extremely difficult language. We have roots in Spanish, Latin, French, German and more! We have words like tough, thorough, throughout and through. We expect children and foreigners to be able to see the differences in sound with those! Come on! We have rules like "i before e, except after c, and also as spelled in neighbor and weigh." Seriously? That's a bit much, don't you think? I get razzed at times for the double l's in Spanish creating a y sound, or how a little tilde over an n makes the "en-yay" sound (just wrote that out phoenetically folks). But what about the fact that y is a vowel SOMETIMES, but we don't specify when. UGH! I would hate to be a non-English speaking person trying to learn this ridiculous language!

I have heard countless people say how they don't like the idea of their kids learning another language, or even have English as a second language. What if it wasn't a second language, but a co-language? What if we taught our kids English and Spanish together? What if we integrated two languages in our school system? Would it be so horrible for our kids to be diverse and able to communicate with people from across the globe?

Personally, I don't think so. I proudly say that I am translating some of my publisher's books into Spanish. It makes me SO proud that my publisher is reaching across language barriers. If only we all would.

1 comment:

ChainsawChick said...

I think it's great to teach children, and adults for that matter another language. Those people who get up in arms about it are probably the same ones who say marriage is exclusively between a male and female and think we should all believe the same way they do with everything...just my opinion!