Foreign Languages

Discussion in 'Education & Learning' started by Lon Tanner, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Lois Winters

    Lois Winters Veteran Member
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    Unheard of tuition that low today. My grand niece just negotiated and $50,000 tuition for her Master's degree study at her home college based on her previous performances as an undergraduate and staying on the Dean's List for all 4 years. This includes living expenses and we are all so proud of her for not budging from her argument for this with the President of the University. I think they were impressed as well.
     
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  2. James Hintze

    James Hintze Very Well-Known Member
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    I'm new with the group, and I really enjoy it. It's important that we can respectfully disagree with each other, something that seems to be in decline elsewhere.

    I seem to have touched a nerve with my beer post, so let me see if I can touch another here. I hope this post is in the right place.

    I have studied and taught language throughout my adult life. My undergraduate university (50s) required two years of a foreign language. I had intended to major in math, physics, chemistry, or some such. When the language requirement reared up in the second year, I got in the German line because it was shorter. It sparked, so I chose it as my major. Since it was my major it didn't satisfy the foreign language requirement, so I added two years of Russian.

    My PhD diploma, translates to English as German and English Philology. So I have to admit that what follows has considerable bias.

    In 1967 I was hired on in a tenure track position at a university with a graduate program in German, where I spent the next 22 years. At the end of that time the graduate program was gone, and a few years later so was the under graduate major. This seems to be the trend throughout the country.

    My argument here is that the study of other languages is very important, as is the study of literature, which also seems to be in decline. If there's interest here I can write more.
     
    #17
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  3. John Brunner

    John Brunner Senior Staff
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    First, did not see your last post. I'll have to seek it out.

    Regarding this topic: saying that "the study of other languages is important" is not an argument, it's a conclusion.
    So what's your supporting argument? What makes it important?
     
    #18
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  4. Cody Fousnaugh

    Cody Fousnaugh Supreme Member
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    @James Hintze, some topics can be very controversial, while others not so much, if any. I've done some controversial ones and, basically, wished I hadn't.
     
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  5. Mary Miller

    Mary Miller Very Well-Known Member
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    I took French in High School and was told I had an exceptional accent. I copied it from English speaking French actors on TV and in movies. But I did not really continue with it. I used it occasionally but probably could not today. My brother was a Latin teacher and he said that was an important language to learn. He speaks many languages and the latin based ones the best. He travels and enjoys speaking with others in their native languages. He has made international friends.
    Technology will be coming out with good translation devices in the near future. But, like the phone, if you lose it or the battery dies, you will be in trouble if you normally use it extensively whereas you cannot lose your languages.
     
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  6. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Supreme Member
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    I've had two years of Spanish and three of French. I can read almost any menu now. :D
     
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  7. Mary Miller

    Mary Miller Very Well-Known Member
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    Snork!
     
    #22
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  8. Al Amoling

    Al Amoling Veteran Member
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    I had Latin in junior high and high school. Also had French and German in highschool. Had 2 years of German in college. Never had chance to use any of them
     
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  9. Ed Wilson

    Ed Wilson Veteran Member
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    I had Latin in a Catholic elementary school because it was the language of the church at that time. It's the basis of a lot of other languages including Greek. I remember the first few pages of the Latin school book which had in English on one page saying that Gaul is divided into 3 parts, and the facing page was in Latin. I have no idea why I remember that.

    I had two years of Spanish in high school and was stationed in Spain for three years in the service, but while I know discrete Spanish words here and there, conversational Spanish is another story. When a native speakers speak it, it's a blur of sounds mostly.
     
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  10. James Hintze

    James Hintze Very Well-Known Member
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    For my first argument I might go back to Goethe who stated something like: 'Studying another language teaches us about our own.” A person who had studied German wouldn't write stuff like “Our son visited my wife and I. Or ….with John and I.... Another argument is that studying another language usually teaches about other countries, or at least raises interest in other countries. I remember that when I signed up for Russian I also took Russian history as an elective course.

    Now, for the here and now. Wife and I gave ourselves a river cruse in Russia as our 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago. I used the modern digital courses to freshen up the Russian that I had neglected the past half century. To carry on a conversation I couldn't, but I could read the billboards and restaurant menus. I was amazed by the number of English (American) words adopted by modern Russia, word like Business Lunch, Town House, “Produce” (An open air vegetable market) Bookstores had large sections for books in English. In a more recent trip to Pacific Russia I learned that teens must demonstrate English proficiency to graduate from secondary school.

    When we took our cruise up the coast of Norway, I spent a few weeks studying Norwegian, which I was familiar with only by a few medieval words and grammar quirks. I found it very interesting in that modern Norwegian has many German words adopted during the Hansa era. Modern Norwegian seems to have shucked off more of the old Germanic grammar than English. (Icelandic, on the other hand is still very much medieval Nordic.) I still switch over to Norwegian on Google News quite often. I believe that I could argue that Norwegians know more about our social issues and politics than we do. Russian newspapers also have a great deal about us.

    I could go on, but I'll stop here with the idea that knowledge of English opens the world to speakers of other languages, but it boxes in monoglot Americans.
     
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  11. James Hintze

    James Hintze Very Well-Known Member
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    Try to read foreign newspapers. I use Google News and switch over to other countries. A poster above said that quick tranclation will be here soon. It already is. I use Google translate.
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Senior Staff
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    I got A's and B's in two years of Spanish in high school, but I didn't learn any Spanish until I moved to the Texas-Mexico border fifteen years later. Even after twenty years there, I never achieved a level of fluency in the language. I think you're right though, particularly in the United States, perhaps, although it may exist elsewhere, there is the idea that everyone else should learn English.

    My cousin and best friend, growing up, wasn't particularly academic throughout elementary school and high school, but he married a German woman while stationed in Germany in the Army, took his discharge in Germany, and has only been back to the States twice, according to his sister. I haven't heard from him since high school, but his sister says he speaks German better than he speaks English.

    I can watch movies in German, Swedish, and Norwegian and follow the show just fine, only occasionally glancing at the captions. In fact, I am mostly listening to them because I am working online while they are playing. Sometimes I forget that I don't know the language. I know that doesn't make any sense, but I can't do that with Spanish movies, yet I have some level of fluency in Spanish, and I certainly can't do that with Chinese or Korean languages.

    My parents spoke Swedish. When my grandparents or others of my older relatives came over, my parents would speak Swedish with them as long as none of us kids were around, but they'd switch to English whenever we entered the room. The only Swedish they taught us was how to say thank you and you're welcome, in order to amuse the grandparents. There was the idea then that kids would get confused trying to learn two different languages.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 7, 2020
  13. Terry Coywin

    Terry Coywin Veteran Member
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    Having been to parochial schools and studying Latin made studying Spanish in high school a snap. But, it was not conversational Spanish. I lived in France for 2 years and never did conquer that language. I am better at reading the romance languages than listening to or speaking them. As for Germanic or Eastern languages, forget it. Nor am I interested in them. I've visited many countries and found most had many English speakers among the population.
    My interest in countries other than my own arises from the fascination with culture not language.
     
    #28
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  14. Silvia Benoit

    Silvia Benoit Veteran Member
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    Hi,
    When you learn another language you learn about the culture of the countries where said language is spoken. I studied English since I was 5 y/o and until graduating from HS. The ways of England and US were not strangers to me when visiting both countries.
     
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  15. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Supreme Member
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    Hi Silvia and welcome to the forum. Is your native language French?
     
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