A teacher can make a big difference in our lives. When I was in school and had to pick another language besides English to study, I chose French and almost failed. I have to assume it was my fault because the teacher was fluent in French and spoke it like a native. I had a good friend in the class with me, a girl named Audrey, and she thrived. She got so good at French that she went on to teach it. I learned French later because our daughter married into a French family that loved to play Scrabble, I became determined to learn their language well enough to beat them at their favorite game and almost did.
If I had to do it over and pick another language to help me when I became a travel writer, I would study Spanish, Chinese, or Russian. Because of the way our culture has evolved, Spanish would be the smartest language to study now because our country has become so bi-lingual. I did take 2 years of Spanish in school and learned it far better than I did French.
When we were in China, however, I wished I was fluent in Chinese, but I only learned one word proficiently, Ja lay foe. My cousin Tom invited us to visit him when he worked in Shanghai for 2 years and we did. He lived across the street from a Carrefour, the French version of Walmart. Ruth & I had to take taxis from his apartment to connect to public transportation. We only had 2 ways to get back to his dwelling. We had to learn how to say Carrefour like the Chinese did or carry a photo of it like we did in order to travel to major landmarks we wanted to see. Ja lay foe was easier.
For some reason, Vancouver, WA where we live now has become the 2nd home to many immigrant Russians, and a lot of them have chosen the building trade for jobs. They also live near us, so it would be good to speak their language for 2 reasons. No, make that 3 reasons. It would have been helpful to speak Russian while in Russia. Ruth would probably agree because more than once she had to order meals in restaurants.