Recently, I had the chance to revisit a class where I was a former City Year Detroit tutor. I tutored third graders once a week from November to March, before leaving become a Project Linguist at Mango Languages. The kids asked about working at Mango, and in honor of my visit, they did a writing prompt: “If you could study any language, what would it be and why?” The kids’ answers are terrific. (I hope we get permission to post them, so you can enjoy them.)
Languages they want to study include: German, Hausa, American Sign Language, Greek, Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin, and Pig Latin. A lot of the children are already bilingual in Spanish and English. Most of their reasons for learning a new language are about being able to talk to the people who speak that language. They want to impress their friends and family. Besides, it is cool and sounds fancy.
If, when I was in high school, I was asked why I chose to learn Spanish, these would have been my reasons, too. My school only offered three foreign language options–Spanish, French, and German–so how great is it now that I get to work with speakers from languages as diverse as Malay, Dutch, and Swahili!? Mango Languages gets me excited because we offer many language options for increasing cross-cultural communication.
So the question is: “If you could study any language, what would it be and why?” Who do you want to be able to talk to? Do you want to increase cross-cultural communication, or do you just want to sound “cool and fancy”?