Awhile ago, I was approached by Kaplan International Colleges about participating in their Inspire Language Learning Blog Challenge and this being a topic close to my heart, I decided this was a topic I'd love to cover on my blog.
I'd love to say that I had some sort of master plan when it came to learning a second language, but alas, I was not quite so organized. You see, in Canada, it's mandatory for every student to receive some French language education being that it is one of our official languages. I, like many grade 4 children, looked forward to this class in hopes of being able to speak a secret language that neither of my parents would understand. Little did I know, it would take a lot more work and time than a lesson per week and that those secret conversations weren't going to exist until I was well out of my parent's house.
While it's mandatory to take a few years of French as a Second Language, students have the option of dropping the class as they get older and my classmates began dropping like flies but I decided to stick with it. The progress was slow but I liked the class and I hoped that at some point, I might become fluent enough to hold a conversation. It made sense to take French as my language requirement in University and when that went well, I enrolled for second year classes and then I had 12 out of 18 credits needed for a minor. Again, it was logical to continue.
I didn't see the full benefits of my perseverance until after I completed my degree in Education. As my fellow graduates were scrambling over a handful of jobs, my French minor landed me my first teaching job. It was now my place to inspire school kids in Western Canada, where French is not widely spoken, to keep learning. I listed all of those benefits in the info-graphic above (minus the 'sexy' stuff) but it was hard to get them to buy in at such a young age. I knew that my second language had done me well and I hoped it would for my students too.
When my husband was offered a global position within his company, I had no idea just how thankful I'd be to have French as a second language. A move to Gabon on the West coast of Africa transplanted us in a French speaking country where finding anyone who spoke English was a challenge in itself. I listened to my husband remark that perhaps he shouldn't have dropped out of French the second he was permitted and I smugly grinned that my perseverance would pay off yet again.
While we've since departed Gabon and my French language skills aren't put to daily use, they continue to surprise me. Recently, we found ourselves in a bit of a predicament in Brussels, Belgium when our car was locked in a parkade on a quiet Sunday morning and we had a F1 race to catch. The security guard didn't speak English and the 3 gentlemen I was with did not speak French. It was my stellar French skills that communicated our problem and ended up releasing our car from it's unintended imprisonment.
My second language has gained me numerous benefits when it comes to travel & career (and I'd like to think brain power too) that it's hard to argue which may be better than the other. What I have learned is that it's difficult to plan ahead and it's impossible to know exactly where life is going to take us but I will guarantee that learning a second language will never hamper you and perhaps you'll be like me, it'll come in handy when you least expect it.
What's your language story?