A Multilingual Girl

NaBloPoMo November 2012

Today’s BlogHer prompt is very fitting for me personally.

Do you speak more than one language?  How did you learn the additional languages? 

As most, if not all, of you know I am multilingual. Two foreign language credits were a requirement in my high school so I took two semesters of Spanish. Speaking a second language came in handy multiple times over the two years I worked in a small grocery store while taking college courses online. So much so that I decided to build on that concept and took French on campus.

I guess you can say a love for languages was born because after French came Mandarin Chinese online. I actually started with Cantonese first because it was available on campus, but gave that up after less than a month. Mandarin is the more common dialect (spoken in mainland China, Taiwan and Singapore vs Hong Kong only) and is a lot less complex than Cantonese so I’m glad I switched when I did. I would have preferred a on-campus course but there wasn’t one available. And before you ask “why Chinese?” at the time I was studying the Asian culture and China has always been on my bucket list.

My late husband taught me a bit of German and my friend Amanda taught me a bit of Italian. I fell in love with the Italian language and continued to study it after she moved back to New York City. I am not completely fluent in it yet but I can hold my own in basic conversations. In addition to speaking these five languages I also know ASL or American Sign Language. I learned to sign when I was in elementary school because my friend’s older sister was born deaf. I’m the first to admit that I’m not as fluent in it as I am in the spoken languages because I learned it so long ago and I don’t use it on any sort of regular basis.

I get the most use out of the Spanish (locally) and the Mandarin (it’s actually how I cuss in mixed company) but occasionally I either will take an online course or pull out the audio tapes for each of the five verbal languages to refresh my memory. I keep the guides and manuals on my bookshelf and have the apps on my phone for impromptu studying and translating.

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