“It’s never too late in life to learn a foreign language,” at least that’s what I’ve been told. I started learning Spanish at age twenty-six, after failing the class as a high school student. It was more of a necessity for me, since my job took me to the U.S./Mexico border, five days a week. After roughly eight years of formal classes, vacations in Spanish speaking countries, non-English speaking girlfriends, and numerous embarrassing situations, (too many to count;) I am finally in a place where I can call myself a “fluent” Spanish speaker. By no means was this easy; in fact, I had to change my entire life. I was fortunate to live in a Spanish-speaking part of the United States, and I took advantage of this. I made a pledge to myself that English would become a secondary language from now on. Everything from the music I listened to, to the settings on my phone were now in a foreign language. It was the only way I could learn Spanish.
Throughout countless hours of study and many cringe-worthy moments, learning a foreign language has changed my life. It has taken me to many Spanish-speaking parts of the world and given me the ability to communicate with the locals! Without my foreign language ability, I never would have met my wife. English will be her foreign language. I see her struggling with her foreign language and see myself in the mirror fighting the same battle, some sixteen years ago. “It will get easier” I tell her, the end justifies the means.
Speaking a foreign language gives people the ability to compete in today’s job market. It has become a must in certain areas of the world. No matter how old someone is, the dream of learning a foreign language is attainable. It takes “ganas” as they say in Spanish, or in other words, someone has to want to do it.
I look at someone like Andrew Napolitano, one of the great legal minds of our time. Now at 70 years old, he is still capable of learning a foriegn language. By learning a foreign language, He would be able to discuss his brilliant legal opinions with a broader audience.
Foreign language learning brings the world together. By communicating, we can understand each other and grow as one, no matter how different the countries we come from are.
Age should not get in the way of learning a new language, just ask Judge Napolitano! Moreover, if someone is retired, use the extra time on their hands to learn a new language for the next vacation they have planned!