Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 11-14-11
November 15, 2011
How many of you remember learning to speak English? It is likely that most readers of this paper don’t recall it because they grew up speaking it. It was a natural progression. My 2- and 1-1/2-year-old grandson is learning to talk and it is interesting to see his progress. He constantly asks, “What is this?”
It’s not that he wants to know how it works but simply what is the word for it. He is acquiring a lengthy vocabulary. And his questions remind me so much of when I lived in France to delve more deeply into learning French. Like my grandson, my most common question was, what do you call this thing? I became proficient in the language, but it still was a little off-putting when I heard little French kids just blabbering away. It was funny to compare when I was like a young child in my language development and how my skills improved over time. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live in France and be immersed in the language. It was sink or swim, and I chose to swim.
It baffles me now when immigrants chose to not learn English. What a limiting decision, in so many ways! It is not necessarily an age-related problem, either. I knew an 89-year-old woman in France who had just embarked on a quest to learn English. She said you are never too old to learn. Now that is a spunky attitude.
While I was a youngster we raised sugar beets for which we needed migrant workers. We had the Frank Coronado family who came to work and returned every year we had the beets. The father and children spoke English as well as Spanish. The mother didn’t speak English but I’ll bet she understood a lot. They had three older girls who worked the fields and we didn’t get to know them very well. My brother and I got to be friends with the younger children. Abelardo, my brother’s age, was the oldest boy. Frankie and Johnny were the younger boys and I remember them better. Once in a while they used Spanish with each other, such as “andale” which means hurry up. Of course we used please and thank you in both languages. Maybe that is where I got my desire to learn a second language. I didn’t chose French; it was the only foreign language available in my high school. Now the same school offers only Spanish, which in the current day would have more practical uses than the French.
I still get to use the language periodically and with satellite communications it is easy to hear it and get my ears attuned again. Mango is a program on the internet, accessed through a library system, with which one can practice a myriad of language choices. For those inclined, there has never been a better time than today to begin to upgrade your knowledge and skills.
Peggy used her French occasionally with travelers, cows and small children, in southwestern South Dakota. Her internet latchstring it out at ThanskAFarmer4Food@yahoo.com.