July 24, 2012

After several hundreds of hours of sleep, I seem to be back to normal.  Or as normal as normal can be!

So, here is another of Martin’s writings.  Getting him to write is like pulling teeth out of a polar bear, but I so enjoy his gems of wisdom.  I read and correct a lot of writings every week.  It is always refreshing to see someone writing with a bit of imagination, and in Martin’s case, a whole lot of that!

I like blue shirts. I want red shoes, but my mom doesn’t want to buy them. At I feel sad because I don’t have money to buy the shoes. The next time we go to the department store, I have a lot of money. I want to buy the shoes but I don’t have enough money. Again, I can not buy the shoes. When I get home, I am very unhappy. My mom says that she wants to give me a gift. It is the shoes which I wanted!

Okay, it may not be the most hilarious writing, but compared to his classmates, he shows a lot of potential to be a writer.  Perhaps mom and dad are not too keen on the idea, but I do let his mom know that I do enjoy his writing.

We’re going through a rainy season of sorts.  It seems that every night, or wee hours of the morning, we get a heavy downpour.  Unless one is awake at 3-5am, you’ll miss it.  Again, around 3 or 4 in the afternoon, we have been getting downpours.  When I say downpour, it may seem a bit vague.  Quite literally, these storms last about 30 minutes or so, and the rain comes down so heavy, you can barely see across the street, and the wind is almost enough to knock you off your scooter.  Luckily, my travel to classes seems to occur before or after the trip.

So, let’s see what plinky.com has to ask today:

You wake up and discover that you can speak another language. Which one?

Well, that’s a good question.  English being the universal language, I think that one is solid.  I’ve tried to explain, sometimes in vain, to my students over the years, just how many countries around the world, one can visit and use the English language.

A few years ago, I decided to do a little Internet research.  My figures may be a little outdated now, but at the time, of the 285 recognized countries around the world, as reported by the United Nations, 260 (give or take) use English as a first or second official language.  When you factor in the number of countries that use English, albeit not officially, then the number jumps to about 276.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole population of these countries speak English, but that English can be used.

The United Nations used to use 5 languages, and about 2005, added one more language, making it 6.  Therefore, there are 6 official languages used in the United Nations.

People will argue that the use of a language is determinate upon the numbers of people who actually use the language.  That being the case, Chinese is obviously the clear winner.  However, there are only 5 countries who use Chinese as an official language, but the problem being, for the most part, these 5 countries can only communicate in written form, and even then, there are problems.

China and Taiwan, for example, both use the Chinese language.  In written form, China uses what is referred to as Simplified Chinese.  Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese.  In terms of the spoken language, China uses 6 or 7 different dialects of Chinese, with the most used dialect being something called WU.  Taiwan uses Mandarin Chinese.

As it’s been pointed out to me, and I’ve read in books and online, people from both countries, to a certain extent, can understand each other, but problems do still occur.

At least with English (for example), it doesn’t matter which country I were to travel to, where English is used.  English is English.  Yes, in some instances, little spelling differences occur, or slang meanings could be distorted, but for the most part, talking with people or writing or reading, is not a problem.

Living in Canada, we use English and French as our two official languages.  My mother was born and raised in Quebec, and as children, she taught us French at home before we started learning French in school.  Since I do not live in a French-speaking part of the world, my French skills have wained a bit.  However, it was fun to have French students at my cram school for a year.  I was able to ‘brush up’ on some of my lost vocabulary.

Back to the question… if I suddenly woke up and could speak another language, which language would I like to speak?  It would be a toss-up between Spanish and Chinese.  However, that being said, I would also like to be able to read and write the language as well.  There is no sense in knowing how to speak a language, if you can’t read it!

I think Spanish would be the easiest, since Spanish and French share the same base for their languages.  Chinese would be great to learn, in all fairness to my students and co-workers, but then, I think I’d be falling into the trap of using too much Chinese in class.  At present, since I do not understand Chinese that well, it is difficult for me to explain things at times, to my students.  I have to find alternate ways of explaining vocabulary.  It has worked for 10+ years, so about the only part of Chinese I would really like to learn, would be the written part of the language.

I think I would rather this:  I wake up one morning, and a sign of solidarity or unity on the planet, everyone was able to communicate in one language.  Think about it… why have so many different languages in today’s world?  With the Internet, and satellite TV, and people able to travel worldwide, why do we still cling to hundreds of languages?

That’s it, that’s all… for now!


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