Building Bridges – my column in Peace Arch News – allows me to share my thoughts on topics I feel create better understanding among my community. Sometimes, these issues stem back to when I was in high school; things that were on my mind then are apparently still hot topics today. Like the belief that all newcomers to Canada should speak English. In my most recent column, I got to tell South Surrey and White Rock residents that English is hard, and immigrants and refugees deserve a break!
I learned English as a second language once I started school. I was also lucky to have parents who grew up speaking English in their school system so I picked up my new tongue (which is now my primary language) quickly and easily. At least, I don’t recall struggling with it. Since then I have learned French in school, tried my hand at Mandarin (couldn’t grasp it), picked up a little Italian and am now studying Spanish. I love languages and how learning them can bridge gaps, teach us about different ways of living and thinking, and much more. But I don’t expect people to learn them easily and I certainly don’t think we should be offended when people don’t.
I’d love it if you’d read the full piece and then comment here: do you speak more than one language? Which ones? And what are your thoughts about this issue?