Lori Lancaster | February 13, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | February 13, 2004
Everything I've ever read says that exposing kids to different languages at an early age is better - not just for brain formation, but because children can make all the sounds required for all languages - we lose that ability as we grow older speaking only one language. I don't know, as the half-assed attempt to teach me Spanish in high school (far too late) didn't really help me out much. Even after about 5 years of study, I don't know much.

Lori Lancaster | February 13, 2004
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Dave Stoppenhagen | February 13, 2004
I think the earlier the better. I studied Spanish for a couple of years of high school and learned nothing. So while I was in the Navy I learned how to swear in 3 languages, doesn't really help unless you want to get your butt kicked.

Lori Lancaster | February 13, 2004
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Dave Stoppenhagen | February 13, 2004
The only one that would expect that of me is nanny, but then again she knows better. Thank god Jaime is the favorite granddaughter

Scott Hardie | February 14, 2004
My own experiences bolster your theory, Lori. I didn't learn any foreign languages until high school, but after two years of French class, I was still treating it like a code that needed to be encrypted and decrypted a sentence at a time. The sole reason why I left Bradley University for WIU was that Bradley required English majors to pass four semesters of a foreign language, and for the love of God I just couldn't do it. I earned a 15% (!) in my second semester of French, and though the professor still passed me because of my extra effort, I could not stand another hour of that linguistic torture.

If & when I have my own little mini-mes, I may immerse them in foreign languages to develop their infant brains, but that will have to compete with their immersion in classical music, swimming lessons, and whatever else babies are supposed to be immersed in. Personally I hope to immerse them in the stock market and raise some little Alex P. Keatons to help daddy retire.

Jackie Mason | February 14, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | February 14, 2004
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Denise Sawicki | February 14, 2004
Well, I did pretty well in French in high school, even won some tee shirts and stuff in national competitions, and I don't know why that is because I didn't have that much language training at a young age. Maybe the little bit I did have actually helped - I remember I went to a couple of French language day camps in the summer, but that was probably only a couple weeks a year. My mother's mother was a native French speaker so my mom has, I guess, about a 9-year-old's vocuabulary in French... we visited my relatives in Switzerland when I was 4 and when I was 9 and I guess she probably taught me a few words to prepare me. Whatever :)

Nadine Russell | February 15, 2004
I was in french immersion classes from kindergarten until grade 10 when I realized that I absolutely despised it. I am still fluent in french though, so I guess that early exposure did pay off. I can speak and understand french pretty well. I can also read it with no problem. However writing it is a hassle and just not worth it to me. During my first year at university I thought it would be cool to learn another language and I enrolled in spanish. After one year the only things I remember are "Where is the bathroom?" "I would like a beer." And "I would like fried eggs." Probably wouldn't help me all that much. My brother also did the french immersion thing and then took German in university and he found the same problems that I did. You just don't remember things as well for whatever reason. If you're going to learn a language, it's best to learn at an early age, or at least have a very strong desire and a lot of patience to learn when you're older.

Steve West | February 15, 2004
Strong desire as an adult certainly applies to my own experience. As a graduate student I was set up on a blind date with a beautiful girl who happened to be deaf. She actually had a severe hearing loss and communicated best in sign language. My graduate degree is in audiology (sort of the science of hearing) and the mutual friend that introduced us thought we would have at least that in common. My knowledge of sign language was extremely limited at that time.

Sign language is a language in itself and not just a manual form of English. It has its own grammar and syntax and the phrase foreign language does apply.

I was smitten at our first date (or at least verrrrry intrigued). I promised myself that I would learn sign language just to be able to communicate with this beautiful woman. I found I learned quickly and after only three months was at a conversational level. I took an immersion course at Gallaudet University, where I was interning at the time, and got the courage to test my still-limited conversation skills with the deaf students there.

I'll save the details of my relationship with the aforementioned beautiful woman for another discussion, but the point is that my skills now are just short of interpreter level and it all began with an infatuation.

Anna Gregoline | February 15, 2004
I wanted to learn sign language really bad at one point, and borrowed a CD from the library that showed you how to make signs. My computer was too slow to use the CD properly (this was early 90's or something), so I got frustrated. I can only remember the sign for "beautiful."

Anna Gregoline | February 15, 2004
I wanted to learn sign language really bad at one point, and borrowed a CD from the library that showed you how to make signs. My computer was too slow to use the CD properly (this was early 90's or something), so I got frustrated. I can only remember the sign for "beautiful."

Anna Gregoline | February 15, 2004
I wanted to learn sign language really bad at one point, and borrowed a CD from the library that showed you how to make signs. My computer was too slow to use the CD properly (this was early 90's or something), so I got frustrated. I can only remember the sign for "beautiful."

Anna Gregoline | February 15, 2004
Oh, and "grow."

Lori Lancaster | February 15, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | February 15, 2004
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Erik Bates | February 15, 2004
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Denise Sawicki | February 15, 2004
Lori, I actually got myself a free trip to Switzerland about 5 years ago so I remember that a lot better than the times when I was a kid :) It's a rather long story. It was nice, green hills, tiny roads, tiny cars, attractive streetlamps, umm, lots of good chocolate available in the grocery store... The main things I remember from being there as a kid was they had lots of big snails crawling around on the sidewalks and we visited someone who sold live rabbits to eat. On both occasions I had to eat cheese fondue and I don't really see why people like it...

I suspect my doing well in high school French has to do with my neurosis for always doing my schoolwork perfectly... so I would learn what they taught me, but I doubt I had a really great grasp of the language as a whole. I didn't do so great talking to my French-speaking relatives 5 years ago. At that point it had been 4 years since I studied French. I guess I could generally understand them if they talked slowly but I would have a hard time trying to figure out how to say things... Anyway it was a perfect cover for my shyness.

Steve West | February 15, 2004
Yes, Lori, we were happily married for three years. Unfortunately, we were married for five. I am, sadly, divorced but have remarried to another beautiful (hearing) woman who appreciates my signing and has attempted to learn.

Scott Hardie | February 15, 2004
I joined a sign-language club in grade school - we met once a week for maybe 10 minutes after school let out. Since the membership changed each week, we had to keep starting over at the beginning; I swear we learned the alphabet ten separate times.


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