There are apparently people in Russia reading this! Hello! Hi! How are you? How did you encounter me? I'm so glad to have you!
I wish I could say something in Russian (okay, I can say about two things but I have NO idea how to write them). I can also pretty much guarantee that you are better at English than I will ever be at a second (or third, fourth, etc.) language. I'm incredibly jealous.
And a German as well! Hallo, wie geht's?
And hello to anyone from other countries that aren't showing up on my stats!
I wish that the American public school system would get on board with teaching languages at a developmentally worthwhile time and in a functional way. Starting a language in late middle school or early high school is not going to help us much. Very, very few people can pick up and become fluent in a second language starting that late (and they have to be very gifted, very motivated, or both). So many studies have proven that the earlier you start, the better the results and with a growing Spanish-speaking population, this could be vital in their future employment. I also wish that I could (rather than just wishing uselessly) do something to change this.
I understand that, especially with today's economic issues, this will probably never happen (or at least not in my lifetime). It therefore makes it so, so important to me to become at least proficient in another language. I know small amounts of American Sign Language (not British, though, because it confuses me) and German (I used to know a lot more but I lost a ton of it, ironically, during my final year of high school in my AP class). I can generally have basic conversations and get my point across but that's about it (and I feel extremely self-conscious while doing so).
I am hoping to learn Spanish some time in the near future and to keep up what ASL I recall. Both would be extremely useful to me (I hope to be a social worker in an area with a huge Hispanic population) and I do plan on taking Spanish courses. I'd also like to learn some French and Italian and Norwegian and Portuguese and Polish and so much more (all of which I hear spoken on a regular basis, at least to some extent). (Unless I get the money for Rosetta stone, though, I am not currently very positive about these actually happening.) As a child I had always hoped that I would be fluent in tons of languages but it's starting to look doubtful. And if I do end up having children somewhere down the line, I want to speak to them (or have my husband speak to them) in a different language so that they can learn it along with English and they can have that gift.
Until then, I'm muddling along with my one (and sort of two bits) fluency.
Does anyone have any recommendations (other than immersion and Rosetta stone; I'd love both but neither are that financially feasible right now) for learning foreign languages? What about ways to encourage our school systems to start teaching languages in elementary schools? Do you speak any other languages fluently (or close to fluently)? If so, what are they and do you find them useful?