Finding a Voice

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Having grown up in a bilingual community was one of challenge, distress but later of great benefit. Learning a language is not easy as an adult and to watch a child absorb the language without difficulties is a positive feeling. My mother never tried to learn how to speak, write or read English as an immigrant to the U.S.A. It was until she got married and had children that we assisted her in all possible aspects of living and learning a culture, a language and customs. Today, as a mother myself I question my language experiences and feel what my mother lived. My temporary move abroad was one of excitement and possibly faced with learning a new langauge. Today, as I look back when I first arrived to experience a “silent period” in my acquistion of a new language I am not feeling that inability to learn and speak Arabic. Though most of us are not born linguists, striving to achieve even a small level of communication between ourselves and the inhabitants of the country we are visiting or living around can be a most rewarding endeavor. Because of the varied historical influences on the people of Morocco, there is a large variety of languages spoken throughout the country. Spanish has a huge concentration in the north, while French is a second language even a Moroccan’s first language depending on their ancestors and of course there is Arabic spoken. The classical Arabic is used in the media like reporting the news but a common Arabic dilaect used in daily life among the locals is known as Darija (Moroccan Arabic).

I feel somewhat comfortable getting by with what I have learned from informal settings. However, I still have  along way to go but as I live here I have learned an appreciation for being bilingual.

Thus, I have experienced that learning a language is a lot easier when you are immersed into different scenarios. It can be scary because as a foreigner you don’t want to be taken advantage of and almost will feel a need to be dependent on others for a period of time determined by the individual and circumstances.

My thoughts are perhaps it is time to rethink our language education in the U.S.A.and adopt a European approach to foreign language education. Second language learners are already a large minority in the United States. Soon the times when an American can get by with speaking only English will be long gone in today’s global society. So, like our European and Canadian counterparts, perhaps we should think about adopting foreign language curriculum very early in student learning, and create a new generation of bilingual and multi-lingual people. Starting early is one key to language acquisition. The Europeans and Canadians understand that it is easier for students who start young to learn different languages. In fact, many Europeans and Canadians speak three languages.

Having been and still am part of a bilingual culture, I have seen that students grow up to benefit their community and the generations to come when one  speaks more than one langauge. School systems in America already spend considerable time and money educating their teachers about how to teach ELL(English langauge learners) students. Why not spend some of that money educating our students, beginning in kindergarten, to speak multiple languages? The fact is, however we accomplish it, we must adapt to our ever-changing world of more and more ELL students and fewer global borders.

Have you ever learned a new language and felt in the process like giving up? 

For more information on how our brains process a langauge check out this all time favorite research site:

http://www.brainconnection.com/topics/?main=fa/evolution-language

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve brought up in a trilingual community + we have the country’s dialect. It’s kinda difficult to master all these… so we are simple jacks of all trade but masters of none. When at home we should speak the dialect, at school, it’s french. For the paper work and official documents, it’s english and nearly every body learns a third language, according to the religion and all. I never learned arabic though I learned urdu. I have to say it helps, when I go abroad 😛

    Reply

  2. Official language in Iran is Persian(farsi). We all have brought up to learn english and arabic at school for 12 years. Yet finally we learn nothing. lol
    I learnt English and Arabic by own, my westerner husband also helped me to improve my English. I also talk to a language especially for northern people of Iran, name as Gilaki.
    Arabic is easier for iranians, for the letters are similar, just persian has more letters than arabic. like “P” , “Gh” , “Ch” and “Zh” that arabic doesnt have them. but farsi has them.
    Also arabic has 14 pronouns, but persian has 6 pronouns. Mean Farsi is easier..

    But Farsi has something good in it that makes it difficult to learn for foreigners . Absolute Farsi or Tehrani Farsi which is talked in capital of Iran, doesnt have any esp accent. So learning Farsi is difficult, for all other languages have dialect or accent. But learning other language for an Irani is easier, bcs we can pronounce words easily like an original citizen. Even persian speaking is very feminine and pleasurable for ear.. Farsi is soft language and it helps to make strong languages like German, arabic or English, very smooth..
    People love my english accent. They say you talk english with persian accent! But usually Arabs tease me for my Arabic.. lol

    I’m going to learn Spanish, Italian and Russian too.. 🙂

    Reply

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