What’s your native language? Were you exposed to a foreign language in your youth?
My native language is English (as spoken in Louisiana, that is!). I took French lessons as a child but it really wasn’t much exposure.
Tell us a bit about your life and work and if/how foreign languages have played a part.
I also studied French and spent a semester in Paris while in college. Of course I loved that, and I even brought home a yummy recipe for chocolate mousse. Otherwise I have not studied languages as an adult until recently. I have spent most of my adult life as a therapist (LPC). Ten years ago I started The Women’s Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides a comprehensive array of mental health services to women who would not otherwise be able to afford them. This includes lots of outreach into stressed communities. I am very proud of the work of this organization, which is a result of the commitment of many highly skilled and dedicated individuals. I have also enjoyed volunteering as a docent at the Fralin Art Museum.
Which language are you studying at Speak! and why?
I am studying German at Speak! because five years ago my daughter married a man who grew up in a tiny farming village in lower Saxony, Germany, and they now have two bilingual children. For awhile I had considered studying French again or learning Spanish, but then German became of course much more compelling.
What do you enjoy most about your one-on-one course with Stefanie?
The hardest thing to do is to have a conversation, but that is also the most fun, particularly when we talk about things in our everyday lives. Stefanie finds wonderful books, and we are now reading one called Allerlei zum Lesen, which is a compilation of short stories by German authors. The book has lots of good exercises that along with the stories make learning German a lot more enjoyable. I particularly like the crossword puzzles.
How does your language study enhance your life?
To me the process of learning to speak another language provides a window into the way the people who speak that language think and express themselves differently than we do in English. I see this in the grammar, vocabulary, all the ways that the people use the spoken word. Additionally, it is a way to learn about the culture, history, politics, geography, economy – whatever you like – of the country where the language is spoken. It is deeply enriching in so many ways.
Do you have any advice for others of us considering learning or brushing up on a language later in life?
I have to be very patient with myself and be satisfied with slow progress. I find German quite difficult, but very worth it. It is fun to learn something completely new.
Interested in finding out more about our one-one-courses? Give us a call (434) 245-8255 or send us a message!