Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Tidbit: the power of language

"Languages are ways of 'naming' the world. We cannot enter much at all into another culture unless we learn its language, its ways of naming things and activities. One reason many of today's Americans find it hard to understand and related to other cultures and nations is that we insist everyone speak English and we fail to learn other languages. It is extremely difficult to learn another language—and it is incredibly rewarding as our eyes are opened to other people and cultures with their distinctive sensibilities and sensitivities. Learning to speak someone's name with respect is the beginning of communication and relationship. Learning languages is a fruition of this same attitude, a practice of this essential principle."

-David Gill, Doing Right: Practicing Ethical Principles, 138 (emphasis mine)

This is one reason we've encouraged Eliana (age 11) to learn Spanish. She spends 40 minutes in the morning before school, three days a week, using Rosetta Stone. She's been doing it for 3 years already. I think it's paying off. Some of her very best friends at school, six years in a row, have been girls from other cultures (Cuba, India, Ethiopia, Hawaii, Italy, Indonesia, the Philippines). When they do something she doesn't understand, she doesn't get mad at them. She comes to me and asks, "Mom, is there something I should know about ______ culture that would make her do ______?"

Music to my ears.

No comments:

Post a Comment