I am going to China in March. Cool, huh? So guess what I’ve been doing? LEARNING CHINESE! I don’t have enough time to learn a LOT of Chinese, just the basics. I can say, “Do you have a menu in English?” and “Do you speak English?” and “How much does that cost?” I also know how to say, “I don’t understand.”
Ting bu dong.
I don’t remember learning English. I DO remember learning Spanish! It was hard work and I thought I would never get it. I made a lot of stupid mistakes. Sometimes people laughed at the way I tried to say something. I didn’t understand jokes for a long time, which was hard because I love jokes! I did NOT give up.
Eventually I learned Spanish so well that I could understand most conversations and say whatever I needed to, even though I might not say it the very best or most elegant way. In November I went to Mexico and my Spanish was still in my brain! It was nice to see how all that hard work has paid off.
Kids often ask me what they should do if they want to be writers someday. I always say, “Read lots!” and “Write now! Don’t wait!” I also tell them if they’re REALLY serious, they need to get a liberal arts education—study everything! A good writer should know about history, geography, music, math, philosophy, politics, religion, and LANGUAGES. If you’re serious about writing you need to develop a lifelong love of learning about the world and its people. Learning another language is a great way to do that, not to mention being a SUPER workout for your brain!
And, just so you know I practice what I preach, this month I read a book about languages and geography (Guns, Germs and Steel) and a book about an interesting historical person (Queen Isabella of Spain). And I’m learning Chinese.
P.S. The Chinese word for dragon is “long”.