Je Crois en la Classe de Français

Julia - Fairhaven, Massachusetts
Entered on February 5, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

Parlez-vous Français? I do, or I am busy learning to at least. Everyone has a changing moment in their life, whether it is something they saw or someone they met. My vacation to France during the summer after eighth grade is the reason I believe in French class. Even though I was only thirteen at the time, this trip gave me direction in my life.

When I traveled across the Atlantic to France I did not know that when I returned home seventeen days later, I would be a changed person. It was such a strange and scary feeling to be in a place where I couldn’t communicate with anyone around me. I had taken a year of French and basically only knew how to say “Bonjour”. My mom and sister were better than me, but, the language barrier between my family and the rest of the non-American tourist population made it difficult to communicate. I clearly remember ordering dinner in a restaurant and getting handed a dish with raw meat on it. Times like this make one wonder why they didn’t pay more attention in High School.

I feel that everyone should be able to communicate with people from across the world, even if they are not fluent in a particular language. Being able to understand people is important, not just to order food, but also to bridge the culture and language gap between different countries. Americans usually imagine the typical Parisian as a rude snob. However, as soon as I got into a taxi with my family, after arriving in Paris, our cab driver proved that stereotype false. Our driver complemented my family at our attempt to converse with him in French. He explained that most Americans climb into the cab speaking English and expect him to be able to understand. He felt that most Americans didn’t speak another language because they thought they were better than everybody else, which is why most Parisians consequently treat them without respect. If Americans travel to different countries and attempt to speak the language, more people would have different opinions of us. If everyone took a class to learn a different language, whether French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, or Farsi, I believe that the communication gap between Americans and the rest of the world would be breached and the results would be tremendous. I think that it would even be reasonable to expect the different countries of the world to be on more peaceful terms with each other.

I believe in French class because of the connection it has with the whole world. Learning different languages is a key component of understanding different countries and their unique culture. Now, with the internet and international business soaring, this is even more essential. I know that I am a better person for trying to overcome my English barrier to at least communicate with another culture.