Learning a language has helped me more than I ever thought it could.
A sentence many people recognize, commonly used all over the media. French culture and language is a trend everywhere, but to me, French is much, much more than that. I owe my French professors and teachers from over the years all of my gratitude in helping to form who I am. French is everything to me.
I started learning the French language in kindergarten. Clearly, I started young, but my school had a special french program that highlighted languages learned from a young age with multiple camps and programs to allow for French immersion. By 5th grade, I could hold a conversation, although the grammar wasn’t always correct, and I knew a lot about French culture. This was just the beginning of my French education, and I’m here to explain to you that learning this language has been a vital and important part of my life.
My school was one of the only public elementary schools I knew that offered French as the language kids learned, all of my friends who went to other schools were learning Spanish. Spanish has long been a prominent language in the United States, and quite frankly I agree that every American should know some Spanish to be able to communicate; however, French is the 5th most spoken language in the world with over 300 million people speaking it. While millions of people speak French, I already stood out in the crowd with my language learning and ability to speak a second language nearly fluently by middle school.
When I was consulting with an advisor about high school, a lot of advisors told me to take Spanish. “It’ll be more useful in your future,” they said. “Most of your friends will take it, so you should too.” I am so glad the next few weeks that followed convinced me otherwise. I had been having a rough time in school up to that point (who isn’t in middle school?) and wanted to give up learning almost entirely. I was unmotivated and really didn’t have much I was passionate about. That same month, my parents surprised us with a trip to France.
My mom told me I was in my own world in France. I took hundreds of pictures and would walk far ahead of my family just taking it all in. I would order food entirely in French, and became friends with random people in the parks. It was so out of character for me, but I really felt like life came back to me on that trip, all because of some language I had grown up learning.
Needless to say, I stuck with French all throughout high school and even now in college. I intend to study abroad in a French-speaking country and at least attain a minor in it. Many opportunities have arisen for me because of French, including special programs and scholarships, mentors and friends. Even now, speaking the language or listening to it brings me to a calm and happy place. Knowing and understanding the language has already gotten me farther than I ever thought possible, I owe the French language a lot.