Ask Away: 5 Questions for a HS Junior who will Graduate with 4 Years in Spanish & French
We’re asking students, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…
Meet Nina—in addition to Spanish and French, she’s learning some Italian, Portuguese, and (hopefully) Hebrew!
1. Why French?
I have always wanted to learn French—whether that is because of the language itself or because of my dream to travel to Paris and West Africa, I do not know. I put that goal aside at first in high school when I began to study Spanish, but as I grew to love that other Romance language, I decided it couldn’t hurt to study more! I was really lucky that my curriculum allowed me to study at an accelerated level my first year, too.
Now that I know the language better, I can say I study French because I love its history, complexity, and artistic flexibility.
2. Does your school provide any experiences outside the classroom where you can use your language skills or celebrate French culture in a different setting? Tell us a little about that!
Yes, my school provides so many language-related opportunities. We have a French club, immersion nights, French fundraisers, international trips, and events like International Education Week and National French Week! Speaking of more strictly academic activities, we even take the National French Exam.
3. As a high school student, why do you feel it’s important to learn another language?
There are a multitude of reasons to study foreign languages. The easy response is to study them because they can help with admissions and jobs. That may be true, but in my opinion, those motives won’t set up a language learner for success.
Instead, I think language learning is important because it’s like life condensed into a singular experience—full of struggle and development, but also joy and discovery.
I can’t speak for others students’ motivations, but for me, language exploration has opened my eyes to realms of existence and fulfillment that no ‘award’ could ever rescind. In this way, I think language learning is crucial because it expands our understanding of what life means, both for ourselves ans others.
4. What advice would you have for other students who are looking for ways to use and practice their language(s)—any tips?
Of course immersion is often the best option for practice and language use, which I have been lucky enough to experience, but I don’t think it’s prudent at first. I have a couple of suggestions:
One: Immerse yourself via music, literature, movies, and YouTube. Find native speakers who can provide fun sources of language material that also truly contain the rhythms and speed of the tongue. Personally, I think that I am more effective when I simply listen to or read challenging content instead of being taught structures and sounds verbatim.
Another idea is to find native tutors or clubs—I live in a tiny, rural Montana town and I have still found native speakers and extracurricular groups.
Finally, I would suggest recording yourself speaking or adding writing supplements to your classwork for more practice. The more you strive for broader mastery, the more it comes. For me, these activities are fun because I want to be better with the language, and I love the challenge of grammar, accents, and speed recall!
5. What’s your favorite word or expression in French and why?
I am, honestly, not sure! I love the word surtout or ‘above all.’ I love the way it sounds, but it’s also a combination of two fairly basic words, making it a tiny puzzle! I love the word because I think it’s needed in language education—above all, language studies are entertaining, enlivening, and exploratory. They are not rigid, nor ‘achievement’-based, and I love that.
6. What’s next on your journey with the French language?
I don’t know where my journey with French will take me! I hope to study or work abroad in West Africa, and I dream of having a fluent conversation somewhere in Paris! For me, French is fun because of its wanderlust, and so I truly hope it will help me travel and meet more of the world. For now though, I plan to complete my last two years of French in high school!
And, as always, don’t forget to share your language learning story @LeadWLanguages on social media!