Saturday, April 14, 2007

Parlez Vous Mandarin

While traveling in Iowa last week I had a flash back to my high school days there when I read an article entitled, "Students to Celebrate French Bowl at Simpson". The story was that nearly 250 area high school students were gathering at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa -- Indianola is just south of Des Moines which is French for "of the monks" since the original hilly terrain in what is now present day Des Moines looked like the shaved heads of monks -- for "French Bowl" which is billed as a "day of fun and competitive games about the French language and the cultures of French-speaking countries."

My high school flash back was the result of the fact that my Iowa high school ONLY offered French for a foreign language -- no German despite the fact that nearly 90% of Iowa residents are of German descent, no Spanish despite the influx of immigrants, no Japanese despite their economic power at the time, and surely no Chinese was offered in my high school days in the 1980's. Personally I enjoyed studying French but in geo-economic terms French is not very helpful in today's global economy -- unless you want to work in Haiti, Quebec, or France itself (go with Quebec if you want my advice) versus having a knowledge of Mandarin Chinese so I was very surprised an event like "French Bowl" was able to attract 250 students.

The bottom line for me -- it is great to see that such an event exists today since any knowledge of a foreign language helps students excel in other areas of life.


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