Thursday, March 24, 2016

Value of Learning a Foreign Language

I am born and raised in Texas.  The one regret I have in my life is to not have learned a foreign language.  Of course, most Texans can understand some Spanish... About enough to greet someone, order a beer and ask where the bathroom is.  But there is so much more to learning a language.  It is an integral part of learning about a culture.

The younger someone starts to learn a second language, the more they are able to absorb, but anyone, at any age, can learn a foreign language.

What Opportunities Are There to Learn a Foreign Language?

Online and Apps-
Many people learn a language on their own.  There are many options online.  Some of these include Rosetta Stone (FEE) or (FREE).

There are also numerous apps you can download to your smart phone and have your learning with you 24/7.  A great app I've seen is AccelaStudy. you can practice up to 18 different languages.  There is a free and a pay version.  for only $7.99 you will get access to  more than 2,100 words.  While helpful, it is not necessarily ideal on its own since there is no speaking or writing practice.

College Classes-
Of course, we live in the Brazos Valley which has some of the best higher learning options in the country.  Blinn and Texas A&M University offer many foreign language courses that you can take for credit or potentially audit.  Not to mention universities across the country offering online course.

Spanish - 
TAMU Center for International Business Studies offers Non-Credit Spanish Courses each fall and spring semester.  Some courses they offer are beginner, but with most you must have some experience with Spanish, or have permission from the instructor.  The fee is typically around $100 for 2 months worth of classes.

Chinese - 
The TAMU Confucius Institute is currently offering Summer 2016 Chinese language and culture classes.

Beginner 1A:  Tuesday & Thursdays, July 5-August 18, noon-1 p.m. ($35+book)
Beginner 1B:  Tuesday & Thursday, July 5-August 18, 5:30-7 p.m. ($35+book) 

In addition to these classes, they also offer Tai Chi, Calligraphy, history & culture and brush painting courses.  Please visit for more information including registration.
** If you are a high school student, consider checking out their Discovering China Summer Program.  This program includes a trip to China from June 4-16, 2016, with many opportunities to learn language, visit historic sites, seminars on Chinese culture and more!

Chinese & Korean Summer Program for Kids-
TAMU is offering a FREE summer program for children to learn the Chinese & Korean cultures and languages.  The classes are set up for incoming 2nd and 3rd graders with no prior experience in Chinese or Korean.  The program will from June 1-24 from 8am-noon and will take place at Spring Creek Elementary School.  Get on line ASAP as the deadline is March 27. 

Turkish - 
Did you know we have a very active Turkish community center in in B/CS?  We do and they offer language and cooking classes throughout the year!  The Raindrop Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in Houston in 2000, but now has branches in 6 states.   Check out their website for course offerings.  Make sure to get on their mailing list to be aware of other cultural events they host throughout the year.

Japanese - 
The City of Bryan is currently offering the full Japanese experience this spring.
Remaining classes run through April and May and are $30 for residents and $35 for non-residents.  Students will learn the basic Japanese language structure and communication skills in both the conversational and written format. 

The Brazos Valley Czech Heritage Society regularly offers Czech language and cultural classes and events.  They are currently offering classes at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bryan.  Visit their website to see other programs taking place,  

Conversation Groups-
No matter what option you use to learn a foreign language, you must "Use it Or Lose It".  There are many conversation groups at Texas A&M University and Blinn.  Get together with a group for coffee and practice your foreign language.  Many English as a Second Language speakers would love to practice English with you while you are practicing their native language.

Are you aware of other language opportunities in our community?  Please share!

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