May 18, 2008

I can't learn Spanish, French, etc.

One of my favorite lines is when adults tell me that they cannot learn a foreign language. Their brains just aren't wired that way. Usually they follow this comment with one of the following comments: I have enough trouble with English, or I studied for so many years in high school/college and I can't remember a single word.

How sad. Our educational system has convinced so many people that speaking is so difficult that only a genius can do it. And after years of study, the only thing most people have to show for it is a well-developed sense of failure.

I have a few standard responses up my sleeve. Often I tell people to come sit in my class, and then they will learn. :) I don't mean this as arrogantly as it sounds. It isn't that I'm such a fantastic teacher, but the way I teach is so different than the way most of us were taught. The other response I usually give is to tell the person I am talking to that they learned to speak their first language just fine and so I don't believe for a second that they can't learn another language - obviously their brain is wired for it.

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