*First Published with Languages for Businesses*
Growing up in a semi-rural town in the southern United States, I wasn’t exposed to many languages beyond English and occasionally Spanish. Beyond Spanish, I never heard “foreign” languages being spoken. I place quotes around foreign because, believe it or not, the U.S. does not have an official language.
There was a cultural void around me. Even in schools very little emphasis was placed on foreign languages. I attempted to learn French in high school from a woman whose country accent was so thick her merci beaucoup’s sounded more like “mair-see bow-koo’s.” Failures of the education system in the U.S. aside, there is just no need for proficiency in another #language when you live in the states, and it’s increasingly alienating them from the rest of the world. It has created a culture that easily shuts out other #cultures.
Since then, I have lived in two international cities, New York and London, and I am kicking myself for not taking more initiative while I was younger! Not speaking another language has become an impediment for me while I try to open new and exciting doors for myself. Now I am taking weekly French classes to learn how to pronounce merci beaucoup in a way that doesn't make listeners cringe. It has exposed me to facets of the world I would have never experienced otherwise. My advice? Begin learning now! Open those doors for yourself. There is still so much to discover!