March 31, 2016

Hello, je suis una estudiante

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” - Charlemagne

 

Only 17 months apart in age, my sister and I have always been extremely close. As the younger of the two, then, it was my job to copy all of Bonnie’s cooler interests, whether it meant stealing clothes out of her closet, experimenting with her makeup, or listening to her iTunes playlists. After the first day of 8th grade, Bonnie came home with a new interest, her love of the French language. Naturally, I decided that I, too, should become literate in a foreign language, specifically French (what a coincidence!). Henceforth, I anxiously waited for 7th grade to roll around so I could begin my French education.

 

With age, I began to develop interests separate from my sister, probably to her relief. However, the one interest in which we never diverged, surprisingly, was French. As it had for Bonnie, French piqued my curiosity from the first day of class. Six years later, I graduated from high school with a solid foundation of the language and an even greater love of the culture. I excitedly enrolled for French 201 in anticipation of my first year at WashU.

 

As part of its area requirements, Arts & Sciences requires students to take either three sequenced courses of at least 3 units each in a single foreign language, or at least four courses designated “LCD” of at least 3 units each. Since I followed the language path far beyond the minimum requirement, I have become well-acquainted with the rigors of committing to these courses. While introductory classes meet 6 times a week, intermediate courses slim down to 3 classes a week, with the initial frequency being worth the hard work.

 

This may seem intense coupled up with other classes, but the three semesters I spent learning both French and Spanish have greatly improved my knowledge of and ability to effectively communicate in these languages far beyond my high school education. Pursuing a language at the university level is an experience in itself, one that will reap huge benefits if you’re looking to really immerse into learning a language. I loved it so much that I’m in my sixth consecutive semester of learning a language, switching from French to Spanish to gain a new perspective on the world.


Overall, Charlemagne was right. Learning another language is a door to another culture, one that opens the opportunity to interact with and understand the values of different people all around the world. Whether you choose to study French, Spanish, Chinese, or even Arabic, I would definitely recommend taking a language class or two at WashU.