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Fox

Yep, regarding learning languages, many Americans seem to be quite ignorant.

That has a lot to do with cultural upbringing and unfortunately even some arrogance. Note: I said "some" Americans. There are always exceptions!

Faith Draper

I've never thought of this until now but you make an excellent point. When I was in high school you were only required to take one semester of either Spanish or German. Needless to say that was barely enough to learn the basics and I remember next to nothing of the Spanish I took.

Years later I often run across situations in business where I wish I did know another language (besides English). I really feel inferior when I meet people who know 3 or 4 languages.

I'm headed back to college this fall (at 52 years of age) and am planning to include in my courses one forign language. I hope other college students will do the same.

Teeya Door

There is a Chinese Practice Corner for foreigners to learn Chinese and Practice Chinese. I met and made some Chinese friends when I visited Beijing last time. The corner is in a bar and they hold Chinese Learning party every evening. The bar is located in San Li Tun of Chao Yang and very close to American Embassy and the other countries embassies. You can ask taxi driver where is San Li Tun and most of drivers and Beijing people know there. Very interesting place to learn mandarin. If you cannot visit Beijing, you also can join from their website 'Voice Connecting China'. You can join party online through phone call or skype.

AndreaD

Thanks for linking us to this article, Katie. I appreciate your perspective, and can totally empathize.

When I was studying Arabic, and even Chinese, I was so frustrated by watching my foreign classmates easily take up the language as though they were merely learning to program a VCR or something.

I think that foreign language studies should be mandatory here, the way they are in other countries. It would take initial effort, but the pay-off is huge. As Americans, we can't remain ignorantly blissful as we become further isolated from the international community.

One thing I've noticed is that our libertarian tendency to not want the Federal Government to dictate educational requirements, in addition to being irrational and counter-productive in terms of student performance on an international level, prevents us from implementing a course of study, like foreign language studies, that are beneficial in so many ways.

My cousins, who are Canadian, can all understand French, even though they never put a lick of effort into learning it and coasted through French classes throughout their lives. But they can communicate more or less effectively with people all over the world because of those skills.

I wish Americans would drop their "You can't tell ME what to do" mentality and grasp the idea that the world is big, and we're not the only ones in it.

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