The wife and I just saw I've Loved You So Long a French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas and written and directed by Phillippe Claudel. Pretty good film, fine performances, but that's not why I'm writing this post.
I took four years of French, and at various times in my life since I studied the language formally in school, I've tried to relearn it, mostly to no avail. The film was subtitled, and I managed to catch a few words here and there during the movie. But when I tried to watch a scene without referring to the subtitles, hoping that body language and the context of the story itself would aid me, I was utterly lost.
Why do we Americans struggle with foreign languages so much? The old stand-by answer is that we don't study languages aside from English usually until high school, unlike our European counterparts.
I managed to take four years of Latin, four years of French, and two years of Greek (ancient Greek) in high school, and most of it's gone. Sure, I remember things like "amo, amas, amat." I'm able to read the Greek alphabet still. And French primer texts are comprehensible. But aside from that, it's all gone. And this coming from a guy that won an award in high school for how well he did in Greek (yeah, I was a nerd).
To think high school was only twelve years ago.
In my two minutes of Internet research, I came across this article, which explains why it's so difficult for anyone aged 18 and older to learn a new language.
So why do we Yanks wait so long to learn foreign languages?
4 days ago