Recently I learned that one of the teachers at my childrens schools is multilingual, speaking English, Hindi and several dialects of Hindi. I continually struggle with my second language, Spanish, and, give great weight to anyone who can commuicate in more than one language fluently. I know that it can be difficult.
Tonight my family dined at a Mexican restaurant that we like to frequent. It’s local, and the servers are native Spanish speakers. Because of my own struggle to learn a second language (going on 15 years now), I again realized the great respect I have for the staff there, who speak English and Spanish completely interchangeably.
Learning a second language can do wonders for your writing. My novel has some Spanish in it- just pieces mind you- but in writing it I’ve found that there are simply things that cannot be expressed authentically in English. There is no word-to-word, language-to-language equivalent for every single thought.
In addition, learning a second language can bolster your English. Sentence diagramming was like greek to me, until I studied Spanish. Now, if the Chicago Manual of Style tells me that a prepositional phrase consists of blank, blank and blank, I tend to filter that through Spanish in order to double check what I think I’m reading. That extra filter has helped my confidence in recent CMS- based editing projects that I’ve done.
In this vein, I’ve been seriously considering the MFA program at the University of Texas El Paso, which is completely bilingual (and, thankfully, online, save for a few seminars). This program is exactly where I want to go with my creative writing side, and the only thing holding me back is Creative MFA versus Professional Writing MA …
What about you? Do you know a second language? Has it been of use in your writing?