Posts Tagged ‘children’

On the Importance of Foreign Languages for Children

November 21, 2007

I spent the whole summer 10 years ago visiting Boston and the Boston area with two teen and pre-teen daughters in tow. They didn’t know any English at all, so I was stuck playing Personal Translator the entire summer.

It went like this:

Someone somewhere would ask me something.

I would instantly feel this tug on one arm, then on the other, or both simultaneously, plus the question in stereo:

‘Keskidiiiiiiiii?’ (What’s he saying?) or its twin number:

‘Keskediiiiiiii?’ (What’s she saying?)

Then I would strive to answer the other person’s question, trying at the same time to keep the girls quiet by vaguely summarizing the question.

But then would come the ominous:

‘Kestadiiiiiiiii?’ (What did you say?)

So we had these multi-thread conversations, all summer.

By the time we came home, I was happy to get back into Proper Work Mode.

Epilogue: The girls have learned English and don’t need my services any more. Yes, I’m enjoying it, believe it or not.

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