My Foreign Language Experiences

Years ago I moved into an apartment in a nice new complex. The lady who ran the place seemed very nice. She told me her husband was from Israel. No problem. As the days passed, more people started moving into the complex. To my chagrin, however, I discovered that I was unable to communicate with any of them. I remember going to the laundry and listening to the foreign words and the laughter and having an uncomfortable feeling that they were talking about me.


I could only imagine what it must be like for them living in a country where so few other people spoke their language. I never did know what language they were speaking, and I never got to really know any of them. I studied German for several years in school, but it was of no help to me in this situation.

I truly admire people who come to our country and learn the language, like my Indian friend, Hima, and my Tunisian friend, Zeineb, did. Both of them learned to speak excellent English. I seriously doubt I could have done as well with their languages.

I have also worked with numerous Hispanic students who spoke flawless English even though their parents only spoke Spanish at home.

The funniest thing I’ve experienced, however, is watching my husband, who only speaks English, conversing with a neighbor who only spoke Spanish. Each was holding up produce from their respective gardens. My husband would say, “Tomato.” The other man would say, “Chile.” The conversation went back and forth like this several times before they ended their discussion and went their separate ways.

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