Education

 

It should be mandatory that kids are spoken to in foreign languages from their first days at kindergarten. They should ideally be conversationally proficient in at least one language other than English by the time they are 10.

 

The grammar can come later if they desire to learn it. That said the majority of these new speakers will naturally learn the basic elements of grammar without sitting through hours of boring repetition in a classroom.

 

It really doesn’t matter whether your political sway is – for or against immigration, the solution is the same.

 

Learning a second language to a conversational level is as, if not more, important as learning the grammar. You can voice your opinion and understand what is being said when walking down a the street, either at home or overseas, without thinking you are about to be robbed or shot. The likelihood is that these people are probably discussing their kids, their work or the weather. The same way you do when chatting. Don’t let fear of the unknown get in the way.

 

Simply by trying to speak another language when overseas makes you much more approachable by the locals. In turn this will open up a whole new level of discovery for you. Even just knowing a few phrases will put you head and shoulders above other tourists in the eyes of the locals.

 

One example of this was when our family landed at Orlando airport. We went to collect our car rental and after getting the keys we couldn’t find the vehicle. I overheard two of the car cleaners chatting away in Spanish and asked in Spanish, where the car would be. They looked at us dumbfounded. What was a white, English tourist doing speaking Spanish? The change in attitude was immediate.

They helped to locate the car – which was in the wrong bay. They assisted with our luggage and gave us instructions on how to miss the worst of the traffic. Finally, as a parting gift they advised us on filling the tank well before returning the car, so we didn’t get stung with unnecessarily high gas prices near the airport.

These were Americans in America whose first language was most probably Spanish and not English, even though they were perfectly adept at speaking English. We made the effort and were instantly awarded.