I first took a second language in college: Russian. Why Russian? Well, Spanish was full and French started at 7am. Russian at 10:30 in the morning seemed like an easy way to get my credits and get out. Well, I ended up living in Russia, teaching English there, and married to a Russian. But even with all of this exposure, my Russian will never be more than “pretty good.”
I know the grammatical rules. I understand the case system. However, I will never have the intuitive flair for using the language beautifully. Much like the fact that I can serviceably paint a wall but never a portrait, I am missing the art of the language. I will never have the kind of aptitude that allows language to touch souls.
My kids, however, have been speaking Russian their entire lives. They laugh at the jokes and pick up on sarcasm. One of the reasons for their proficiency is the fact that they’ve been attending Russian Immersion School in Portland Public Schools since kindergarten. They can recite poems in Russian and they know all of the cartoon characters (Cheburashka? Yep, him too.).
Learning another language opens doors to cultures and people that may seem inscrutable on the surface. It brings greater understanding of the world around us, and there is a great deal of evidence that bilingualism helps out in other academic pursuits. This month, we’re featuring bilingual education in Portland. Look into all of these great schools and give your child the gift of a wider world.