I studied a dead language in high school — Latin. But it’s the language most languages are based on. So, I decided that would give me the basics and help to learn other languages.

When I went to high school there was not a high number of ethnic people in southern Illinois where I grew up.

We did have German and Spanish classes in my high school.

In fact, growing up in a predominantly German community I can’t remember anyone actually speaking German. Including my own grandparents.

Now that there are many more Hispanics than I remember, and Asians I wonder how important it would be for me to learn a second language at my age?

English seems to be the predominant language in the world for medicine, engineering, etc. I doubt I’m going to back pack across Europe any time soon.

But having said all that there is still the lure of being able to converse in another tongue.

Which One Should I Pick?

I met a young man on an airplane who was a native of Taiwan. He was here doing a summer job at Yellowstone Park.

He told me that reading and writing English was fairly easy for him but speaking it in an understandable manner was the most difficult part of learning the English language.

Since that airline meeting, we’ve touched base a time or two on his return trips to work at the park. When he arrives, his English is pretty rough. After the summer he’s much better.

I envy the First Lady of the US who speaks five languages fluently. I wonder how you keep them all straight? Would you be speaking Italian then suddenly covert to Swedish without being aware of it?

Some Final Thoughts

I find myself conflicted as to what to do with this project. You’d think living in Montana I would be ahead to learn the most common American Indian language spoken here.

But the Hispanic population has overtaken the black population as the second highest minority.

So maybe I should learn Spanish. But, like anything else once you learn something you have to practice it, or you find yourself forgetting.

Not sure the wife could handle me speaking Spanish half the day.

I do have a head start on Spanish. I can say Tijuana, Juarez, taco, burrito, salsa and Dos Equis. That should count for something.

I’m open for suggestions — any ideas?