Okay, how about the version on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack? The one with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa and Pink.
Sadly, for many young Americans, that may be as far as their knowledge of French, or any other foreign language, goes.
Why? Because the U.S. Congress recently zeroed out the budget for The Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP), the only source of federal funding for K-12 foreign language programs.
There is no federal funding for foreign language instruction in public schools.
Nada. Zilch. Sifir. Lìng. والرقم صفر (that last one is Arabic, in case you’re wondering)
So much for keeping up with the rest of the world.
How do you say ‘multilingual’?
And luckier still that my Turkish-American kids get to learn three languages.
Being able to speak a foreign language can have a big pay-off.
Better career prospects, higher pay, increased cultural understanding, more educational opportunities — what’s not to like?
But don’t fret. Even if your French doesn’t go beyond those risqué lyrics (hey, they were risqué back in 1975), you and your kids can still learn a foreign language.
Four Free or Low-cost Ideas for Foreign Language Learning
Visit your local public library — Traditional books, audio books, Playaways (self-playing pre-loaded digital media players), foreign films, and commercial language learning programs — it’s all there for the taking, er, borrowing.
Contact civic and cultural organizations where you live — Does your local Department of Parks and Recreation offer language classes? Maybe there’s a free “mommy and me” group for speakers of other languages in your town? Perhaps your library offers story time in another language?
Go digital — Download free translators like Babylon2GO, which translates over 75 languages, or talking translators like TranslateMe or Trippo Mondo to hear how foreign words are pronounced. The award-winning Little Pim is great for young learners of Spanish.
Interact on-line — Thanks to Twitter, Skype, YouTube and educational sites, like ePals, families can see, hear and interact with native speakers of other languages. In the Homeschool Forum at ePals, for example, kids can find pen pals from 200 countries and territories speaking 136 languages. Just make sure you talk to your child about cyber safety, first.
Oh, one more thing:
Get vocal — Contact your Senators and Representatives and urge them to restore funding for FLAP so that all American kids have the opportunity to learn a second language.
Voulez-vous do that for moi, c’est soir?