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Talk About Language (September 2013)
News item date:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
By HPN Staff
Volunteer Natália Soares and Junior Staff member Obed Gilles sing a Haitian hymn in Kreyol during morning prayer.
In the last edition of Haitian Project news, THP initiated a discussion on language in Haiti. That discussion continues – this time focusing on foreign language study and the numerous advantages of being multilingual.
THP spoke with four new members of the LCS community. First year Volunteer, Natália Soares was raised in Brazil and is a recent graduate of Providence College. Jean Roger Polidor (’06), who works in the Office of External Affairs, represents the alumni voice while fellow alumnus Jean Pénel Junior Syriaque (’05) offers his perspective as an LCS professor. Obed Gilles (’09) encourages students in the Language of the Day program in his role as a member of the Junior Staff.
How often do you communicate with someone in a language other than your first language and in what context?
Soares: My first language is Portuguese but I almost always speak English, so I mostly communicate in a language other than my first language. However, I speak Portuguese with my family and when I attend Mass at home.
Polidor: Since 2001, I have been learning English and Spanish, which I have gradually been using more often. In my professional life, I often use languages other than Kreyòl and French.
Gilles: I speak English at LCS and French at university, but most of the time I speak Kreyòl.
What inspired you to pursue fluency in a foreign language?
Soares: When I moved to theUS, I learned English out of necessity. I dedicated myself to learning English, and it came naturally to me. My great-grandfathers were Spanish and Italian, so my ancestry made me want to study Spanish.
Syriaque: I wanted to better understand the music I listened to and the books I read as a student, which gave me hope that I could become fluent one day.
Gilles: I simply enjoy learning languages. I also like to be clear when I speak with someone, and being fluent helps someone else understand me.
What advice would you give to LCS students to help them excel in another language?
Polidor: Learn how to imitate. Imitation, along with reading, will give you a rich vocabulary.
Syriaque: Practice the Language of the Day...every day!
Gilles: Take every opportunity to practice the language. You don’t know how useful that language will be for you in the future.
THP/LCS is dedicated to promoting the acquisition of languages. Reflecting on this objective, THP President and LCS Head, Deacon Moynihan, stated, “We all recognize the importance of the lingua familia as a part of one’s cultural identity. However, the ability to speak other languages has both the practical benefits of increased employability and the personal benefits of increased understanding of the other.”