Learning Languages in the United States

It’s difficult to learn another language, and the classroom environment just won’t cut it. Tucsonans have the luxury of living close to Mexico, so anyone learning Spanish can practice outside of class and without traveling far away.

This doesn’t apply to French, however, at least in most parts of the United States. Not everyone can learn the language the right way-Traveling to France or other Francophone countries, so the classroom environment is one of the few outlets for anyone to practice French outside of France, and it’s a counterproductive outlet at that.

I’ve always learned more by doing, so I was really excited to work on a big project with one of the native French speakers in my Advanced Speaking class. She gladly corrected my mistakes, answered all my questions, and gave me one of the rarest opportunities in this part of the US- To continuously have one-on-one French practice with a fluent speaker who genuinely wants to help. I learned more from her in a few hours than I have in my entire French career from high school to college. It’s just not that useful to talk with others in class, even though we all do it for the participation points. I suppose it’s a confidence booster, and that helps when it’s finally necessary to speak French, but in the end, Americans aren’t taught languages well, and it’s because they have a lack of opportunity to practice more than just Spanish.

Sadly, there’s really no light at the end of the tunnel in this situation. Not everyone can afford to study abroad in a foreign country in order to be fluent in a language. The only way to really learn something is to approach a native speaker that happens to be in the area. I was really lucky that my classmate was willing to take me under her wing, and she said that all the native speakers want to do the same for Americans who are determined to learn French. They truly want to teach the students who struggle because they, too have been in a similar position, and most of them had to learn English without the assistance of others. Unfortunately, a lot of my classmates are intimidated by the native speakers, but I learned today that they have no reason to feel that way.

On that note, I wish there was a solution to this problem, but as I’ve said in earlier posts, it’s impossible to master another language in the US when the surrounding countries know English really well.

I’d like to say that everyone should have a tutor for the full language experience, but how practical is that?

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Learning Languages in the United States

  1. “I suppose it’s a confidence booster, and that helps when it’s finally necessary to speak French, but in the end, Americans aren’t taught languages well, and it’s because they have a lack of opportunity to practice more than just Spanish.”

    If this is true (i.e. French schools are more effective at teaching English than American schools are at teaching French), then I would wonder what methods the French are using that we aren’t.

  2. Yeah, I’m curious about their methods as well, but I think they’re at an advantage by being so close to England and other countries, hence, the students can actually practice Italian, Spanish, English, etc., if they visit other nearby countries. Ultimately, they have more outlets for speaking, and students learn foreign languages at a very young age, like 8. On top of everything else, I also don’t think the US puts a strong emphasis on languages in education.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s