by Sarah Firisen
Many years ago, I returned to my old high school for a visit with friends who were classmates back in the ’80s. Exploring the school and marveling over what had changed and what remained exactly the same, we ventured into the language lab. The room smelled exactly the same as it had in 1983, and it took me right back to those days of incredibly boring language lessons and sitting in that room with headphones on repeating monotonous phrases.
I took French for seven years in middle and high school, Latin for five, and German for two. Language classes were always my educational Achilles heel. Those seven years enabled me to speak the most halting, grammatically painful, badly accented French when we visited on vacation, and I’ve always wished I spoke it better.
I’m now planning to visit Paris in January with my daughters, Sasha, 18, Anya, 21, and Anya’s boyfriend, Liam. Growing up in the U.S., they all learned Spanish in school rather than the de rigor in the UK, French. My daughters never showed much more linguistic aptitude than I did in school. In preparation for our trip, Anya suggested that we all download Duolingo, a language learning app. Read more »