Think you’re done with foreign languages? Think again!

Many Americans feel that English is the only language that they need to know. In an interculturally growing world, this misperception has continually been proven wrong.

Even if you never leave your own country, dialects and foreign languages are spoken everywhere. Imagine my surprise when a month after living in Oskaloosa, Iowa, a town the size of about 10,000 people, I heard someone speaking IsiZulu! (IsiZulu is a South African tribal language, prominent on the eastern coast, and is what I spoke most days when studying abroad there.)

When seeing the Avengers this past weekend, my friend who studied abroad in Russia (and double majored in Russian) sat up a little higher in his seat during the introduction scenes of the Black Widow – who was located in Russia. He poked me and said that the sign near the building just had random letters versus actually saying anything. (No worries – I haven’t given away anything in regards to the plot.)

These two glimpses of life show that foreign languages do not completely dissipate from memory when you are no longer speaking them. For example, I had not spoken IsiZulu for a year and a half when I met one of the South African students at William Penn University. If you are particularly interested in maintaining usage of your second (or third or fourth, etc.) language, then you will be able to say even louder to another person – “Foreign languages don’t matter? Think again!”

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