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Learning second languages

September 1, 2012

An article in the New York Times today states that statistics show that Latin is becoming more popular in schools worldwide as a second language and Mandarin is declining in Britain as a second language. I know why Mandarin is going down. Despite its theoretical utility, it’s brutally difficult. Even after a year of knocking my brains out studying Mandarin, when watching a Chinese movie my most frequent thought was, “Are they speaking Mandarin?” It is intellectually the most difficult task I have ever tried.

The rise in Latin is more of a head scratcher. The short explanation in the article is that it has snob appeal. This is a funny blog essay on why student’s time should be spent learning something else: http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2011/02/10-reasons-not-to-learn-latin.html

On the other hand, I am finding Italian to be fun and relatively easy. After trying Russian, Arabic and Chinese, it is much less frustrating. and best of all, you can practice your Italian by using cultural materials from Italy. I can actually understand Dante’s Inferno in the original in Italian with the help of a dictionary. Try that in Chinese!

Also, I would recommend two movies in Italian: Days and Clouds (2008), a movie about the effect financial stress has on a couple living in Genoa, and Gomorrah (2008), a movie about the mafia in Naples. It’s funny, human nature is the same everywhere. Days and Clouds could have been filmed in the Central Valley of California during the horrible foreclosure crisis. Gomorrah is a good movie that shows just how deeply organized crime is woven into the fabric of Neapolitan society. The crime organizations depicted in that movie have been arround for as long as the United States, about 200 years. I am impressed by any business that can stay alive that long. And, as depicted in the movie, they have learned a lot about survival during that time.

My wife has been cooking a lot of Italian food to cheer me on. It is awesome, and even easier than Chinese. Also, the kids don’t turn up their nose at it as much, because it is more familiar to them. So, here’s to Italian!

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4 Comments
  1. Awe honey. Thank you. I do enjoy cooking. Italian is a lot easier to understand the recipes as well as find the ingredients at the local super market. As well as the kids including babies gobble it up. Lol last weeks lasguna did take me 4 hours to make, but a good way of sneaking spinach into a child’s favorite without them even tasting it. He he he!! I’m glad u found a more moderate language to learn…. Less frustrating to you. Less stress on the family lol

  2. Lynn Metzler permalink

    Nice job 😊🍝

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