Re: "Useful languages"
|From:||Roger Mills <romilly@...>|
|Date:||Friday, February 15, 2002, 5:52|
General comment on this "language-learning" thread. I learned Spanish
mainly by the reading/writing method in high school (and did not get into
real conversation until well into college-- even then it involved discussing
written texts, Borges for one, thank God). But on my first and only trip to
Spain, I stepped off the plane and was utterly tongue-tied. (Things did
improve.) Further college study, with native Spanish lecturers who rightly
demanded that we speak and write in Spanish helped a lot; it certainly gave
me a good, albeit bookish, vocabulary. A summer in South America on
business was a real total immersion course. At one point thereafter, I was
sufficiently fluent that Latinos in this country would ask where I came from
(very good for the ego!). That's long gone, but I still read and enjoy
novels and poetry without difficulty.
I learned Indonesian in grad school, the first two years totally by the oral
method, and not a lot of reading even after that. In Indonesia, apart from
minor boo-boos (e.g. devising "Indonesian" words based on proto-forms-- it
doesn't always work) there was never a problem speaking; but reading was
another matter-- spoken and written Indo., especially academese, are very
different, at least IMHO.
The problem with foreign language teaching in the US is that almost no
schools nowadays _require_ you to study one, and the few that do seem to
think that 2 years is enough. Anyone who is seriously interested in a
language has to wait until the college level for any kind of in-depth study.