Count to 10 in 5 languages...
By danijane on November 27, 2012
I am a slacker. I know it. I have not blogged in days and my blogging month is almost over. Eek!
Today's prompt is about foreign languages. I love language. I love foreign languages. I love hearing them. I love learning them. I flat love them. In 9th grade I took my first foreign language class. I was living in Ohio. I chose French. Back then, 1978-ish, French was known as "THE international language". The choice was simple for me, what with my pie in the sky ideas about international living and all......
Well, my instructor, Madam Hamp, was all Frenchy-poo-poo and aside from cracking up with my best friend, Maureen, aka, Lizette, my only real memory of French class was Madam Hamp saying "ecoute uh"....repeatedly...ad nauseum. I learned very little but still enough to lure me with another year of it in 10th grade. I cannot even begin to remember who the instructor was. I do remember feeling mortified that I would be called on. My accent was horrid. I received amazingly good grades in French considering I could barely speak it. I can still count to 10 in French though, and my accent has improved 10 fold. Mostly because I no longer worry about that kind of thing.
My junior year in high school, my family moved to Tucson AZ. I know, right? You will be shocked to hear I switched to Spanish as my language elective. When in Rome and all. My instruction was a young woman who also taught French, Senorita Stelljas (?). She was a spectacular teacher. We would have to memorize these dialogues and perform them in front of the class. My sister, Ande, also had Spanish 1. We would run these dialogues repeatedly until we were fluent. We can still run a few of them today. I decided Spanish was “my" language. I took it again my senior year. My instructor loved me. I was kind of the teacher's pet. I was in love with Spanish.
Off I went to college.....as you all know there are so many choices in college! I had been an exchange student in Greece so I wanted to take Greek. Then I saw Italian and that looked interesting too so I took that, as well as Spanish. I excelled at Greek. I rarely went to my Spanish class and my Italian instructor had me convinced I was gifted and that I should spend a semester in Italy.
Long language story short, I ended up dropping Spanish (not literally), and focusing on Italian...actually declared it as my major! I took another year of Greek too, just for fun.
Fast forward about 11 years. I am married and about to embark on a 17 day European cruise with my husband. We will stop in all four of my "Language" countries. I was so excited. I wondered how much I would remember. I wondered if I would be embarrassed to speak any of these languages in front of my husband.
Our first stop was Greece. I stumbled through. Did not impress myself or my husband. The waiters and shop keepers loved that I tried to speak to them in their native tongue. On to Italy. Here I started to get super confident. Boyd and I rode the train. I read the signs, ordered food, greeted passers-by. I was dangerously brave. Off to the French Riviera. I cracked myself up here. Shouting Bon Jour in my faux French accent every chance I got. Hysterical! Last stop was Spain. Now everything in me said that I should be flat interpreting for every person on our cruise ship.....even though I gave up on Spanish classes, I lived in CA and Spanish is practically a necessity, especially in retail, where I worked. Well, for your future reference "Spanish" is not the same in SPAIN, as it is in Mexico, and it is dramatically different from the Spanish you learn in school. I may as well have let Boyd speak in his broken pig-Latin Spanglish that he uses with his construction workers. I was a bumbling fool.
Today, I still love the sound of foreign languages. I have taken Spanish at the Parks and Rec classes. I can decipher bits and pieces of all 4 languages when I hear them but any foreigner can say whatever they want about me, good or bad, and will probably be met with the same non-chalant look from me. I try not to give too much away.
In my defense, I can still count to 10 in all 4 languages...and as my title so stunningly proclaims, 5, if you include English.
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