Thursday, January 26, 2006


I had a wonderful experience in Oxford's Starbucks this morning. I was standing waiting to be served behind a father and his son (probably 3-4 years old). The father was speaking German to the son but, when the barrister talked to him, he spoke in typical English. I assumed that the father was teaching his son to be bi-lingual and I asked as we were walking out. The father replied proudly that his father was German and that he wanted his son to be able to converse easily in multiple languages.

I had a couple of reactions. First, it felt so good to hear another language this morning. I got so used to hearing multiple languages all the time in Europe that living in a country with only one dominant language is now a bit stale. Second, (and I commented on this to the father) it is so important for any of us who have or can acquire multiple languages to do so. It's part of our world and something that will be the mark of a global citizen in the future. It's very easy as an English-speaker to let others accommodate me rather than my working to acquire another language.

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