Global Education

South speaks: French

By Joseph Busaba
Published: October 2010

Choosing French as my second language was a simple choice.
My sister had already chosen French and I figured she could help me with homework if I ever needed it.
I also felt like French was the right choice because I often spend my summers with my family in Lebanon, a country with strong French influence.
After World War I, Lebanon became a French mandate. During this time, French culture left an imprint on the region.
The French government opened many universities and hospitals where the courses and medical practices were all in French.
On the way to Lebanon, my often family often would have a layover at the Charles De Gaulle Airport. The airport’s employees usually only speak French and I remember thinking how helpful it would be if I actually spoke the language.
Every summer I spent in Lebanon, my cousins would be watching television shows in French, (often times translated American television shows) or we would go out to dinner and the menu would be in French.
While walking in Beirut, I would see signs like “Coiffure or “Marché. Unfortunately, I had no idea what they meant.
Taking French seemed like a good way for me to not only learn another language, but to better understand my Lebanese background.
I also have cousins in Montreal, where I had a lot of the same experiences with French culture. My cousins speak fluent French around me and I was unable understand anything.
Because I constantly visited Montreal, it seemed fitting that I learn the language as well.
Overall I’ve had a good experience learning French. Sometimes I get frustrated with all of the exceptions in the language and think that it is too difficult. However, I feel confident in my choice.
Spanish would have probably been more useful here in the United States, but based on my background and my experiences, I think I made the right decision.

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