I have had many students ask me the same question over the years: “Why do we have to take a foreign language?” Said a different way, they ask, “Why doesn’t everyone just learn English?” My answer is always the same: “Je ne comprends pas,” or, “no comprendo,” or “Ich verstehe nicht.” In other words, I don’t understand you, and if you don’t understand me, we’re going nowhere. This is foreign language week at Churchville-Chili Junior High School. This is the week where we recognize how important it is to understand one another. Language begins that process, but it doesn’t ensure it. Think about the times you’ve misunderstood a friend, a parent or a teacher, and they’re all speaking English. Speaking and understanding a language just gives you a chance to be on the same wavelength as another person. Besides making understanding easier, learning another person’s language is a statement of great respect. You are saying that the other person is so important that you are willing to work really hard to try and understand him or her. Not only that, learning another language, learning about another culture and discovering another part of the world is fun. So, “Bon voyage,” or “Buen viaje!” Enjoy your journey.
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