Ahhh L. The letter of Life, Love and yes, LANGUAGE. So what do we mean when we say language? The languages that people speak in different countries? The differences in the way that people talk? All of the above? Yes!
Let's talk about different languages first. I think that it is so great when people speak another language. Here in DC, there are dual-language programs popping up in several elementary schools and I think it's fantastic. In fact, my kids are in a dual-language program at their school and it has been so good for them.
So what are the benefits of learning another language? I'm glad you asked...
But the way we communicate is just as important as the distinct language that we speak. There are so many regional differences between languages that sometimes it can be hard to understand someone who speaks the same language, but is from a totally different area. For example, though they both speak English, people with Boston accents sound quite different from people with southern drawls. And there are differences within a region too. Some people think that there is just one New York accent, but the way people speak in Brooklyn is different from how they talk in Staten Island, which is different from the accent of someone from Yonkers. And let's face it, anyone who spends time with teenagers knows that they have their own language unique to their age group. There are all kinds of phrases that teenagers say that others have no clue what they are talking about (what the heck is "on fleek" anyway?)
So, language is complicated. But we can stretch ourselves and always learn more. Will you learn how to speak another language (French, Mandarin, Teenager)? Will you learn more about regional differences and slang? What will you encourage with your children? Leave a comment below.
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Dr. Sweeney is a licensed school psychologist and cultural competence expert. Here are her musings on life in a multicultural world.
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