We tried using sign language with Sammy when he was a baby, and while he clearly understood us, and responded appropriately, he never used signs himself so we stopped. (I think we figured, why sign when we can speak?) Unfortunately for us, Sam’s taken the same attitude toward spoken language, and rarely speaks when he can get his message across another way. I shouldn’t even say unfortunately, except that it gets frustrating sometimes when I just want him to tell me what he wants to eat so I don’t have to name every single thing we’ve got. But I know he understands the language and is capable of speaking it. He just doesn’t seem to feel it’s necessary.
(Actually, he talks all the time. In Japanese or Sindarin or something. He has a lovely, lovely voice that I never get tired of listening to. But oh, how I wish I knew what he was saying.)
In sixth grade I studied German after school. The materials used focused primarily on conversational language, which I think was very smart. (Amusingly, they were at least partially written materials.)
Seventh grade didn’t offer any language. The attached high school, which I never attended, offered French and Spanish. The magnet school I attended in eighth grade (my last year of formal education before college) taught Latin. A few years later I briefly studied French with a woman named Holly who’d met her Arab husband in Paris. At the time he didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Arabic so they conversed only in French. Their son was tri-lingual, but would answer questions in English no matter what language they were asked in. Later I studied sign language, but pidgen signed English rather than ASL (which has its own grammar structure).
I only speak English. I know a few words, songs, and phrases in other languages (kitchen Spanish, anyone?) but half the time I don’t really know what I am saying. Thank goodness beer is pronounced the same in so many languages.
Last week I decided that I want to go live in Germany. Some day. I don’t know for how long– anything from a month to a year, I imagine. I have no idea if we’ll ever do it, but I’m thinking of trying to learn the language anyway. I wonder whatever happened to my old textbook.