Why Learn Just One Language?

by Isabela Secanechia on May 14, 2016

Arcadia’s modern language department — true to Arcadia’s promise — is very involved with our education. By being an Italian Studies major, I was able to meet the other language teachers through the Modern Language department’s club activities, who inspired and encouraged me to take other language and culture courses. So far, I’ve taken Italian, Japanese, and French classes, and I have been involved with helping other students with their linguistics and language courses since my native language is Portuguese.

Merci Prof! My French helped me get around Montreal… which speaks so much more French than I thought!

The language department hosts “language hour” meet-ups where students, professors, and other members of Arcadia University can come together to practice a language; regardless of their level. This is how I was drawn into français. The French table and the Italian table always met in the Easton Cafe (our on-campus java spot), and would compete during scavenger hunts and boccia matches. From there, I met the French professors and was inspired to take a French class, and now voilà! J’étudie le français! I love it!

As for Japanese, that one came along with Preview (Arcadia’s first-year / transfer student spring break study abroad experience). It was one of my more challenging courses since Japanese is so different from any of the languages I have studied or speak. My professor, Bell Sensei, was so encouraging and, though I have not reached any higher levels of Japanese, I made it through our Tokyo excursion being able to ditch the English “Good morning,” and “How are you?” and whip out my ohayo gozaimasu and o-genki desu ka!

Studying more than one language at a time can seem like too much of a brain challenge, and though it isn’t the easiest thing to do, languages supplement each other. Going back to basics in French helped me in my advanced Italian courses. Since the grammar is so similar, re-learning the structures, tenses, and other grammatical structures helped me re-apply them to Italian, which made my grammar much cleaner. The same goes for learning new pronunciations and accents. The whole experience of studying a second or third language really makes you more aware of the languages you already have under your belt.

Languages genuinely can be frustrating to learn, but if you end up being as lucky as I am and have a great support system, before you know it, you’ll be on the Polyglot Express! My next stop? Arabic.