July 17, 2014

Shopping for a language

Isn't it lovely to be elven years old and have your whole life ahead of you? Even though you probably don't grasp that concept at that age.

But let me start at the beginning. Expat Girl is entering Secondary School in September and with it, will be able to add a language to her curriculum. English and French are obligatory.

"Mummy, I want to learn Portugese" she proudly announces. "Why Portuguese darling?" I respond, curious to hear her reasoning! "Well, it is the easiest language to learn since I already speak Italian, Spanish and French" she answers.

"Wrong answer, sweetheart. It is too easy. I'll send you off to summer camp in Portugal if you really want to learn it and you'll be babbling along in Portuguese in no-time. Try again!" is my reply. "The future lies in the East, therefore you should learn something like Chinese or Russian."

An inquisitive look tells me either she is wondering which one she should choose OR she has no clue what I am on about! When I was little, Italian was an exotic and popular language to learn, but the world was a great deal smaller in those days. To start with we did not have internet, TV was still in B&W and CNN had not been invented yet!

Thinking of Expat Girl's future and her natural gift for languages, I am pushing her to expand her mind and set her sights further.

So we settle onto the couch - with a laptop on our laps - and start shopping for a language that might tickle her fancy. We try Memrise, a community-driven flashcard site featuring every language under the sun including sign language and have narrowed it down to Russian or Chinese. What a surprise?

The framework shifts after having talked to her aunt who is fluent in Japanese! Her advice is: "Which language do you like listening to? Do you like the sound of Chinese?". Very good point, Auntie!

"Where would you like to spend a year abroad when you're at university?" I am wondering. I spent mine in Italy! Surprise! Surprise!

I know we still have a long way to go before Expat Girl heads off to university, but isn't it lovley to have the whole world in your hands and the opportunity of choosing any language with the prospect of it shaping your future?

Come September, which ever language Expat Girl may choose, I will fully support her choice and as the Japanese proverb goes: The day you decide to do it, is your lucky day!

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