Episode 91 – Young Voices on Language’s Purpose

Episode 91 Young Voicese
It's About Language, with Norah Jones
It's About Language, with Norah Jones
Episode 91 - Young Voices on Language's Purpose

“Language helps a lot with empathy, it helps a lot with understanding others, and it helps a lot with connecting with other people. Like if you feel like you’re lonely or that you don’t really connect with others, you could learn a different language and you could connect with more people, not just on a way that you can speak to more people, but you can also connect with them in experiences and you can learn so much about them..” Arun

Young adults, looking at what they want their identity to be, and searching for what they want their future to be, get it: Language reveals their inmost identity, connects them to friendship and community now, and opens doors of opportunities for their future.

Yet funding and support for language study are still deficient in the U.S., hampered by attitudes of indifference to the power of our global human sharing to solve the problems that we all face, and by a linguistic error that combines “computer” with “language” and thus make those who have not learned another (human) language or have had a poor school experience with an additional (human) thing that “computer language” is indeed a language and since computers are the future that is all the “language” we need.

This gross error will delay the important work that will, inevitably, have to happen if humanity is to survive and thrive. That important work is being the human beings of flesh and blood, language and community, insights and creativity that we only can be.

As we ponder this critical moment, we listen to young voices express the insights they have about being human through language learning. They are experiencing insights critically important to all of us, right now. Listen to them. And then, to reinforce in research what they have learned through experience, look at the facts, below.

Language benefits human beings in many ways

Monolinguals miss out. Key in “language benefits” in search engines and sit back to see why people everywhere thrive when they activate the one gift uniquely given to human beings, language.

It is estimated that 40 to 50% of the current world population speaks at least two languages. Beyond a speaker’s satisfaction of switching languages, recent trends highlight significant benefits of being multilingual.

Having a bilingual brain comes with a lot of perks: from improved health to increased creativity and enhanced job opportunities.”

Read more in this brief and lively article from Dublin, Ireland: The benefits of being bilingual | Southern Star

The superpower of understanding perspectives through language brings leadership and entrepreneurial gifts

“More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies operating in 2010 were founded by immigrants or their children, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy — including some of the most well-known brands, from Apple and IBM to Disney and McDonald’s. The companies noted had combined revenues of $4.2 trillion — more than the GDP of most countries.

“The ability to embrace cultural perspectives is absolutely critical to the way we view the world. Speaking multiple languages and even using English as a secondary language is not a setback, it is your secret weapon.”

Read more on these truths: 3 Reasons Why Bilingual Skills Set You Apart as a Leader (entrepreneur.com)

Bi/Multilingual job needs are growing


Check out a few of my related podcast episodes

Dual Language Realities with Wayne and Collier https://wp.me/pbGevi-1g9

Bilingual Business Needs with Edgar Serrano https://wp.me/pbGevi-OX

Opportunities and Joy with Elizabeth Mack https://wp.me/pbGevi-170

Resources and Information from the National Foreign Language Center https://wp.me/pbGevi-16o

Language as a Lifeline with Celia Zamora https://wp.me/pbGevi-130

Transcreation: Language, Identity, Nuance with Jill Kushner Bishop https://wp.me/pbGevi-130

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Thank you for always focusing on the possibilities, opportunities and the power of language and what it can do for us individually - and collectively!

Elizabeth Mack

If you've never done #cliftonstrengths, yourself or with your team, don't wait any longer.  Norah Jones of FLUENCY CONSULTING is the one and only to do it! It's all about your super powers: finding & using them to affect positive change in the world. What's not to love?!

Elizabeth Mack
Founder and CEO / Freestyle Languages


Yes, @NorahLulicJones definitely has the talent of "bringing out" the best in others or allowing them to showcase themselves in the best light! Thank you for directing the spotlight on others who have great stories and talents to share with others. 

Lisa Fore


Your podcasts are exceptionally relevant and applicable, thought-provoking and insightful, easy-to-follow and enjoyable!  

Paul Sandrock
Senior Advisor for Language Learning Initiatives / ACTFL


You have an immense talent to draw the best from your participants. 

Richard Brecht


Norah knows how to LISTEN - she really "hears" the message - and the interview is richer because of it.  New questions come from the hearing. 

Terri Marlow

Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above. You can also find this week’s episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

As a certified Gallup Strengths coach, I can provide you or your organization personalized coaching to discover and build on your strengths.

I provide workshops, presentations, and talks that inspire and engage through powerful language insights, and I pair those insights with practical applications for the lives of educators, learners, businesses, and faith-centered organizations. I’d love to share ideas with your organization or group, and develop an event tailored to your objectives.

Click here to start a conversation.


Episode 90


0:00:10.0 Norah Jones: Since September of 2020, it’s been my pleasure to have engaged many wonderful voices of adults that are in the educational, business, governmental, organizational world, talking about language in their individual lives, in their work, and its impact on society as a whole. In Episode 90, I went to Northside ISD in San Antonio to speak with the National Language Teacher of the Year, William Lee, selected at the 2022 ACTFL convention. And while I was there, I was surrounded by the young people that I have so much enjoyed in my personal career as an educator. And I know what kinds of wonderful insights, what kinds of sensitivities, what kind of clarity of mind can come from talking to young people, about their experiences, about their intentions, in this case, of taking a language or languages for their own purposes and the impact of language on not only their lives, but on society as a whole. I’m going to present some of these young voices to you today. And I’m grouping them in three different groupings so that you can listen to all that each of these students have to say yes, but also consider some of the highlights of what they keep coming back to.

0:01:42.3 Norah Jones: Take a listen to these four young people in this high school, Clark High School, in Northside ISD, San Antonio, as they talk about the nature of language in their lives and the opportunities that language brings for them. Opportunities also to think in new ways, to help with empathy, to not be lonely, to be able to join community, to be able to build their confidence. This progression of building one’s identity, belonging, and impacting the world is how we grow into strong functioning adults. Listen to these students as they speak about the role of language in their lives.


0:02:35.6 Norah Jones: Hi and you are…

0:02:38.7 Mya: I’m Mya.

0:02:38.8 Norah Jones: Mya, what language are you taking?

0:02:40.3 Mya: I’m taking Spanish.

0:02:43.6 Norah Jones: When did you start taking Spanish, Mya?

0:02:43.6 Mya: I started taking Spanish last year.

0:02:46.1 Norah Jones: Why did you decide to sign up to take Spanish?

0:02:49.8 Mya: I wanted to learn Spanish for my grandma because she speaks fluent Spanish and I don’t yet, so I went to learn for her.

0:02:57.6 Norah Jones: Now, what kind of things do you think you’re gonna be able to do with your language along with speaking directly to your grandmother? What other benefits might there be?

0:03:05.5 Mya: Traveling, for sure. And also getting the bilingual check mark for job applications for more pay.

0:03:13.0 Norah Jones: Okay, so there’s some opportunities for you.

0:03:15.8 Mya: Yes.

0:03:16.2 Norah Jones: Now, sometimes young people, they don’t think that they need to take languages. They say languages are not necessary to take. What would you say to young people about why they should take a language or they should?

0:03:31.1 Mya: I think they should because like I said, more opportunities that are available, and also because it’s just interesting and it creates a different aspect that you can involve yourself in, and it’s just… It’s great overall.

0:03:45.8 Norah Jones: Were you surprised so far about some of the things that you learned that you didn’t expect to learn?

0:03:50.5 Mya: Yes, there’s lots of grammar and lots of rules that come with Spanish, but it’s just good to learn because now I can learn and it feels great.

0:03:57.9 Norah Jones: Do you have any companions here at the school or in other places that you’ve been able to use your Spanish with?

0:04:04.7 Mya: Yes, my friend, she took Spanish in middle school, and so she finalized her last credit here and she helps me with the Spanish.

0:04:12.6 Norah Jones: So language, overall, Mya is not too hard to get started with. Is that what you’re saying?

0:04:19.0 Mya: Yes, it’s absolutely easy with the right teacher, and if you just push yourself, you’re gonna be great.

0:04:25.0 Norah Jones: Thank you very much.

0:04:28.2 Mya: Thank you.

0:04:28.1 Norah Jones: You are?

0:04:28.2 Maddie: I’m Maddie.

0:04:28.1 Norah Jones: Hi Maddie, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. And what class are you currently in that we’ve just borrowed you from?

0:04:35.6 Maddie: Latin 4.

0:04:35.7 Norah Jones: Latin 4. Now, some people don’t take Latin at all or they take it for a year or two, but you’re in the fourth year. Why is that, Maddie?

0:04:44.6 Maddie: Well, probably because of my involvement in Certamen. I joined it my freshman year, and it was initially might have been for extra credit, but I really ended up enjoying it and I just… Latin’s just become such a big part of my life now that I can’t really quit. I think I’m gonna do it in college, so.

0:05:05.8 Norah Jones: Wow. What role is it playing in your life then, not just your studies, but what else has it done now getting into your life?

0:05:13.2 Maddie: Well, it’s definitely helped me become a lot more, I guess, confident in my abilities, just as like… I don’t know how to really explain it, but I had to play is pretty much my own team during my intermediate year, and I really didn’t think I could do it, but I could, so I don’t really doubt myself much anymore.

0:05:32.0 Norah Jones: So that self-confidence level. Have you taken any other languages?

0:05:36.7 Maddie: I have not.

0:05:38.7 Norah Jones: So let’s say that you were thinking about talking to other young people about the nature of languages, sometimes people don’t take them. What can you say about the language experience to other young people?

0:05:53.2 Maddie: Well, it definitely made me think a lot differently, I guess. You’re so used to speaking one way and learning how to speak another way, just completely different is really… It’s cool thinking like that, I guess, an experience I think everyone should have. And it’s great.

0:06:13.6 Norah Jones: And you think you might continue this on into college then.

0:06:16.3 Maddie: Mm-hmm. Definitely.

0:06:16.8 Norah Jones: What do you think you might do with it then in life?

0:06:19.8 Maddie: I don’t really know. I’m really torn between… Archaeology, I guess, has been what I’ve been wanting to do since I was pretty young, but I’ve also been into engineering and those are two different extremes, but I really wanna take classes around both in college just to really see what I’m passionate about.

0:06:39.1 Norah Jones: And here’s to Latin helping you with both.

0:06:43.8 Maddie: Mm-hmm.

0:06:44.6 Norah Jones: Thank you, Maddie.

0:06:44.6 Maddie: Thank you for having me.

0:06:47.7 Norah Jones: And introduce yourself, please.

0:06:48.1 Arun: My name is Arun and I’m in Latin 4.

0:06:51.1 Norah Jones: Latin 4. Arun, why did you take Latin?

0:06:54.3 Arun: Why did I take Latin? It helped a lot with my Romanian skills because I am a native Romanian speaker and it helps me speak with my grandparents a bit better.

0:07:00.5 Norah Jones: So in what way does taking Latin help you to do that?

0:07:06.1 Arun: Well, Romanian is a Latin-based language, and I also thought that if I wanted to learn another language like Spanish or any other Portuguese, French, it would help a lot with that, and it would help break a lot of language barriers if I wanted to go to another country that spoke that kind of language.

0:07:24.1 Norah Jones: That strikes me that you have with several languages, you probably have a view point about what languages do in life. What are some of those perspectives you have from your background?

0:07:34.7 Arun: My grandparents only speak Romanian, and they did when they got here. They do have their citizenship, so they do speak a little bit of English, but it can provide a very big barrier, even though it shouldn’t have to. That’s why I think it’s very important that people take different language courses. So even if you might not speak the same language as someone else, you can understand what it’s like for them to not be able to speak that language and kinda get out of that ignorance of one language is superior to the other.

0:08:02.8 Norah Jones: You have multi-cultural background yourself. What are some of the ways that you feel that your language experience have helped you personally with understanding your own background and your own future?

0:08:14.8 Arun: It’s helped me a lot because I want to get into medicine. And it’ll help a lot with language barriers, because when my grandparents go to the doctors, there’s a lot of language barriers and it has led to misdiagnosis a couple of times, like my grandmother has Parkinson’s and she was misdiagnosed with arthritis. It went under-diagnosed because she couldn’t speak to the doctor that well, and it can lead to very devastating issues, and I want to make sure that there’s a little of that in medicine as possible. So I learned Latin. It’s like a root of a lot of languages, but the big five really.

0:08:54.5 Norah Jones: That’s great. What other last encouragement might you give to young people that are thinking about taking languages?

0:08:58.5 Arun: Absolutely do it. You can… It helps a lot with empathy, it helps a lot with understanding others, and it helps a lot with connecting with other people. Like if you feel like you’re lonely or that you don’t really connect with others, you could learn a different language and you could connect with more people, not just on a way that you can speak to more people, but you can also connect with them in experiences and you can learn so much about them.

0:09:23.8 Norah Jones: Thank you very much. And hi, introduce yourself, please.

0:09:29.4 C.J.: Hello, my name is CJ I go to Clark High School and I’m a Latin 4 student, four years.

0:09:34.9 Norah Jones: Four years. And what is the experience of taking Latin been for you?

0:09:38.9 C.J.: It’s been really fun. Mr. Lee’s class is always pretty good and it’s pretty interesting. My siblings did it for four years too, so when I was growing up, they would always have the parties at my house for the Latin Club and stuff, so I thought that was really cool, so it made me wanna do it when I was in high school. And I’m pretty good at it now, and then it’s also really good when you go to competitions and stuff, ’cause that’s what’s unique about Latin relative to other languages, is that we have… What’s the word I’m looking for? Competitions for various events, and so I get to meet a lot of people from different schools, and that’s pretty cool.

0:10:18.5 Norah Jones: Your classroom is absolutely covered with plaques and awards. That’s very motivating, it sounds like?

0:10:25.7 C.J.: Well, I mean, everyone likes to win, but I’m not that great, I’m okay at the events that I do, but… It’s just about having fun, and Mr. Lee makes it fun, but he also makes it so that we’re really good at what we do, so we usually do pretty well in our competitions.

0:10:42.8 Norah Jones: What’s your very favorite thing about Latin or maybe even two things that you’re just like, “This is what I really like”?

0:10:50.3 C.J.: So one of the things that I do is… I’m on the State Board for the Texas Junior Classic or Texas State Junior Classical League, so I went to Nationals this past year for the Texas delegation, so we’re in charge of about, not in charge, but we helped lead about 250 other people from Texas. And so that was really cool and because for a week, we had to work as a team, me and the rest of the board and do a lot of fun stuff and then we got to do like cheers at the competition, and that was fun, and just a lot of cool stuff that happens at the competitions. Because the classroom is the classroom like you’re gonna be learning but like I’m more of the go out and talk to people, and make friends and stuff, so that’s more important to me.

0:11:36.9 Norah Jones: So if you were saying, okay, I’m going to be talking to a room full of young people who are thinking about taking languages of some kind, what would you say to them?

0:11:45.9 C.J.: I would say it’s really helpful, just for the real world. My parents speak Spanish to me all the time, and I can’t really speak it, but I know what they’re saying to me, and so I was responding in English, but my girlfriend, for example, she speaks French and Arabic and English. And so when you go to her house, kind of like Arun’s parents, her grandparents only speak Arabic and French, so they like intertwined between French, Arabic and English, and it’s very… Like if she wasn’t able to do it, she wouldn’t be able to talk to her grandparents. But it also helps with stuff like the SAT, learning. It really helps you just like… That helped me a lot for the SAT because it helped me like what words mean and how to analyze things, because a lot of it is analyzing things from different perspectives. That’s what Latin teaches you, for example, is to be able to analyze a sentence and put together the words that go together and then jump from word to word because it’s not spoken how it is in English where it’s like everything follows after each other, it’s like you jump around from word to word. And so it teaches you to problem solve and analyze a situation, which is really helpful. And it’s just, it’s really good. And then you have Mr. Lee who is really knowledgeable, because whenever we go to competitions and stuff, everyone wants his opinion, because he’s the expert, he’s like the top dog. So it’s good to have him as a teacher.

0:13:07.0 Norah Jones: You’ve been exposed to a lot of different languages. Do you think you’ll take any additional ones?

0:13:12.4 C.J.: I’ll probably take some emerging classes in college just because that seems really interesting to me, just because I just wanna be able to talk to a lot of people, and I don’t wanna be that person in the room who doesn’t know how to speak a language and be… Feels good, ’cause I’m very much like I love talking to people, and I’m not afraid to speak how I feel, so if you’re not able to do that, it’s not that fun.


0:13:36.2 Norah Jones: Thank you very much. I’m confident that you heard something that resonated with you or with young people with whom you are in contact in your life. For this next group of students, you’ll be listening for, again, everything that they have to say and reflect on, they’re wonderful insights, but I was especially struck in this group by the conversation about travel and about potential job opportunities, and about being able to switch between languages in order to meet needs when being around a variety of people, both within their own societies and also as they potentially travel the world, be it physically or digitally. Listen also to the insight of having, with language, the opportunity to use the resources that one already has in one’s life, that we don’t have to be special or different in order to be able to take languages and make use of them. All we have to do is be ourselves, and we discover as we ourselves learning new languages, making connections, opening opportunities, that it has a positive impact on our identity and grows who we know ourselves to be. And who am I talking to?

0:15:08.7 Ryan: Hi, I’m Ryan. How are you doing?

0:15:11.7 Norah Jones: I’m well, Ryan. How about you?

0:15:13.5 Ryan: Doing good.

0:15:13.5 Norah Jones: That’s great. Ryan, what do you study?

0:15:17.1 Ryan: I study Spanish 2 at Clark High School.

0:15:18.2 Norah Jones: And why did you decide to take Spanish?

0:15:22.5 Ryan: I think it’s a really useful language, especially since we live in San Antonio, there’s a lot of Spanish-speaking people.

0:15:28.2 Norah Jones: And what kinds of usefulness do you think you’re especially interested in ’cause there’s probably a lot of different uses, but from your perspective?

0:15:38.8 Ryan: Yeah, I mean I think it’s useful. So if I’m working at a job, when I’m older, I think I could… There’s someone speaking Spanish, I think I could understand them and especially that could really give me a good position at a job.

0:15:52.0 Norah Jones: What has been your experience of being in an actual, then, class compared to what you are looking for, ’cause you have quite an objective there?

0:16:03.1 Ryan: So well, yeah, I know the classes not, they won’t… I think being in an actual Spanish-speaking environment is much better than being taught than it, ’cause if you’re in a Spanish-speaking environment, you’re forced to speak it all the time, but it’s still a very helpful at Clark, yeah.

0:16:20.3 Norah Jones: That’s great. Now you are in San Antonio, so Spanish is clearly everywhere. Do you take any other languages or do you have any other language in your background?

0:16:28.0 Ryan: I have taken Latin at my middle school for two years, so I know a little bit of Latin.

0:16:34.9 Norah Jones: What has it been like for you switching between a classical language and a modern language?

0:16:40.6 Ryan: So Latin actually helped me with a lot of roots. Lots of roots in English and Spanish are very familiar from Latin, so that really helped a lot.

0:16:51.7 Norah Jones: How about the community of learners here, or do you have friends that you spend any time practicing the Spanish with or that you can imagine using your Spanish as it gets stronger and stronger?

0:17:02.7 Ryan: Yeah, I have a lot of Spanish-speaking friends, so if they’re speaking Spanish, I can talk a little bit to them, but certainly not fluently. Yeah.

0:17:10.2 Norah Jones: Now, there are some young people that say, “I don’t know if I wanna take a language.” How would you encourage and why would you encourage young people to take language?

0:17:22.1 Ryan: Well, I think that it’s very useful for a couple of reasons, like for example, if you’re on vacation or even traveling, you need to know multiple languages, not just knowing one language or else you’re gonna get stuck somewhere, but another reason, it’s like… It helps you in life, helps you understand different words, and it’s all connected. Languages are all connected. Yeah.

0:17:50.1 Norah Jones: Any other exhortation?

0:17:54.1 Ryan: Not… Yeah, another good thing to know about languages is that they’re all like… The roots of everything is really important, so that it helps you in English too. For example, Spanish roots, there’s some very similar words in English that can help you on reading tests or the SAT and stuff like that, so it’s very useful.

0:18:20.5 Norah Jones: Thank you very much.

0:18:24.0 Ryan: Thank you.

0:18:24.0 Norah Jones: And hi, and who are you?

0:18:24.4 Taarika: My name is Taarika and I go to Clark High School. How are you?

0:18:29.6 Norah Jones: I’m fine, thank you very much. And what language do you take?

0:18:33.9 Taarika: I’m taking Spanish 2 as well.

0:18:36.5 Norah Jones: All right. And have you taken any other languages before you took Spanish?

0:18:39.7 Taarika: Not really, but I had to learn English when I came here, so.

0:18:44.4 Norah Jones: From where did you come?

0:18:46.6 Taarika: India.

0:18:47.9 Norah Jones: From India. How was that experience? At what age did you learn English then?

0:18:52.7 Taarika: I came at around the age of seven or eight, and so since I came at an early age, it was easy to like start learning English. At first it was kind of hard, but then as I like… Since I was in an English-speaking environment, it was very easy to understand and learn.

0:19:07.5 Norah Jones: You have then a perspective because of your own personal background about what languages can do. How has that been for you when you made your decision to take Spanish, for example?

0:19:21.2 Taarika: For me, learning languages has always been interesting because if you’re gonna get a job somewhere far away or in different countries or if you’re just traveling, it’s easier to learn more languages because then if you’re talking to someone else, you can switch from this language to that language and be like… Able to help others out or ask questions.

0:19:40.8 Norah Jones: I’ve heard from some young people and some grown-ups, “I don’t need to take a language. One is enough. I know English. That’s a world language. That’s all I need.” What would you say to those folks?

0:19:54.6 Taarika: I mean, if you wanna stay with a language, I mean it’s your choice, but I would suggest you learn another language because, like I said, if you’re going somewhere new, knowing another language could help you out there.

0:20:06.8 Norah Jones: What do you think you might do with your Spanish, if anything, in the future?

0:20:11.9 Taarika: I’m not completely sure yet but if I was gonna go somewhere outside or maybe go to Spain or somewhere there, maybe I could use it a little bit like “Hola!” or something.

0:20:24.1 Norah Jones: Do you think that there are… Any particular language or languages that here in the United States that students should be considering taking?

0:20:35.0 Taarika: Maybe Latin, ’cause I’ve heard it’s useful for like the medical field if you’re going there, or just like an English class. But since we live in San Antonio, maybe Spanish as well, but I don’t really know.

0:20:47.8 Norah Jones: And do you have a community around which you work where you are part of the group that has learned, in this case both English and now taking another language, so that you can talk about the experiences of learning languages?

0:21:02.3 Taarika: Yes, I have a community around here so I can be like, “Oh, hey. What are you doing in this class? How did you get this?”

0:21:09.6 Norah Jones: Any other invitation or exhortation for any young person?

0:21:15.7 Taarika: Not really. I mean if you wanna learn another language, the option is always here. So just have fun, I guess, when you’re learning.

0:21:24.0 Norah Jones: That’s great. Good advice on that one. And hi. Who are you?

0:21:26.5 Sandhana: Hi, my name is Sandhana and I go to Clark High School.

0:21:30.0 Norah Jones: And what class do you take?

0:21:31.8 Sandhana: I’m currently in Spanish 2.

0:21:34.3 Norah Jones: And do you like it?

0:21:35.6 Sandhana: Yeah, I like it so far. I think it’s very helpful.

0:21:38.1 Norah Jones: In what way is it helpful?

0:21:39.9 Sandhana: I think, especially considering that I wanna go into the medical field, knowing a second language is definitely key. Also where we live, especially San Antonio near the Mexican border, so.

0:21:53.0 Norah Jones: Are you so far happy with what you’re experiencing in the class? Was it kind of what you were expecting so far?

0:22:00.3 Sandhana: Yes. I didn’t expect that we were going to be as interactive as we are but we do do a lot of projects, learn about the culture and, yeah, I think it’s very helpful.

0:22:10.4 Norah Jones: Do you have any other languages in your background?

0:22:12.7 Sandhana: Yes, I do speak a second language called Tamil and, I guess, I’m also still currently learning it but we do speak it quite a lot when we’re talking with family.

0:22:25.0 Norah Jones: So that’s a family language, a heritage language?

0:22:27.2 Sandhana: Yes.

0:22:28.6 Norah Jones: Where do you study it?

0:22:32.3 Sandhana: So I… It was my second language so I started learning it when I was like around five and it’s really… I guess I didn’t really learn it from anywhere, it’s just like interacting with my family. But also here in San Antonio, we have this Tamil school where I do go on Saturdays to learn this language.

0:22:53.0 Norah Jones: What kind of encouragement would you have for young people that don’t necessarily have the kind of heritage background to create that extra oomph?

0:23:05.6 Sandhana: ‘Cause I don’t think you necessarily have to have a background to have the motivation to learn, because it’s really what you do with what resources you have.

0:23:16.1 Norah Jones: Do you think that you’ll take any other languages on as you continue your studies and growth?

0:23:22.8 Sandhana: I was maybe thinking of taking Latin maybe next year. It depends on how I’m really like with my schedule. But I am also highly considering other languages, maybe like Indian languages, ’cause it is easy when you know one Indian language to know the rest ’cause everything is interlinked.

0:23:43.4 Norah Jones: Tell me about the cultural aspect again. You mentioned it here in your Spanish. You have this background of your own. What role does culture play in the learning of language?

0:23:55.1 Sandhana: I think culture is a very big motivation that does fuel learning because if you don’t have motivation, really, learning another language isn’t going to be helpful ’cause without motivation, you’re not going to retain the information, and I think retaining it is key for the future.

0:24:14.6 Norah Jones: What happens if a young person doesn’t have the external motivation, let’s say, of their own heritage, but is drumming up their own internal motivation? What kind of internal motivations might there be?

0:24:29.4 Sandhana: I think for a person with internal motivation, it’s really thinking about their future and what they wanna be ’cause I guess when you identify yourself and your identity, that’s what helps you move forward with learning another language.


0:24:44.0 Norah Jones: I wonder if you are experiencing some sense of connection to what you’re hearing. In this last group of young people speaking about their experience as language students, you’re going to hear a lot about connections, reconnecting within themselves, finding what feels at home to them, whatever that mysterious reason is that we resonate with certain languages and cultures when we’re exposed to them. Broadening then the horizons of their own experience, seeing themselves excel. And connecting themselves with the bigger world and recognizing how the world connects, how history connects with the present, how cultures connect with each other. Very insightful and very challenging for all of us. Listen and see what you hear in this last of the segments.


0:25:50.2 Norah Jones: And hi, who are you?

0:25:51.7 Natalie: Hi, my name is Natalie.

0:25:53.5 Norah Jones: I’m glad to meet you. And what class of language are you taking?

0:25:57.5 Natalie: I previously took Spanish, but now I’m currently taking Latin.

0:26:00.6 Norah Jones: So you decided to change from Spanish to Latin?

0:26:03.0 Natalie: Yes, I did.

0:26:04.7 Norah Jones: Why is that?

0:26:05.5 Natalie: I just heard about the many benefits that Latin has to offer, whether it would be SAT, ACT prep to the medical field and law terminology side.

0:26:15.6 Norah Jones: How many years of Spanish had you taken previously?

0:26:15.7 Natalie: I took three years.

0:26:17.7 Norah Jones: Do you feel like you will be able to continue that Spanish at some point, or do you think that the Latin will take over for what you’re looking for in your life?

0:26:26.7 Natalie: Currently, I am planning to pursue Latin more so than Spanish.

0:26:30.7 Norah Jones: Okay. What made you decide that taking languages at all was something that you were interested in?

0:26:35.2 Natalie: I’m really interested in diverse cultures and interacting with diverse people, and just taking a bunch of these languages helps me create avenues to communicate with the people.

0:26:45.2 Norah Jones: Sometimes young people don’t want to take languages, they think they’re too hard, or there’s not much use for them, what kinds of things do you say when folks talk like that?

0:26:56.5 Natalie: I think languages are really useful, even in everyday life, you see Latin pretty much everywhere, although it’s considered a dead language and it’s not spoken, it’s in our literature, it’s in our everyday signs and stuff like that. So you really do learn a lot from different languages, and you also learn about different cultures by taking these classes. Not only that, it’s just a super fun experience, it’s not that hard, it’s just a matter of being willing to put in the effort to learn these languages and really just exploring your resources.

0:27:30.2 Norah Jones: What do you think you’ve benefited from on a personal level, not just a practical level, by taking languages as you have?

0:27:37.5 Natalie: Through Latin specifically, I’ve created… Or I’ve found a community with a lot of these Latin takers, ’cause we go to conventions and we kinda just bond over our interest in Roman history in Latin language in mythology and so on. So that’s something that I hold really dear to my heart.

0:27:53.8 Norah Jones: Do you think you might take other languages in the future?

0:27:57.2 Natalie: Yeah, I’m definitely interested in studying a lot of Asian languages to kind of reconnect with my culture, including Korean and Mandarin.

0:28:04.0 Norah Jones: Do you think that the fact that you do have heritage, in this case, an Asian direction that that has helped to prompt your interest?

0:28:13.2 Natalie: Yeah, definitely, because I’ve definitely heard a lot of different languages spoken in my household, whether it’s Kenntnisse from Hakka and even Japanese, I’ve heard some of that as well, and it’s just really interesting to hear all these different cultures interact in one setting, and so that’s something I’d like to participate in.

0:28:32.8 Norah Jones: That’s great, thank you very much. And you are?

0:28:36.1 Audrey: My name is Audrey.

0:28:37.0 Norah Jones: Hi, Audrey. And you are in what language and in which class?

0:28:41.9 Audrey: I am in Latin 3 right now.

0:28:44.9 Norah Jones: And why did you decide to take Latin?

0:28:46.4 Audrey: So before coming into high school, I always heard really great things about the Latin program, and I’ve always loved and had a passion for Greek mythology. And I know that the Latin class I feel like touched on that and it has really helped immerse me in the culture, not just the mythology but also the life and how they lived. So that’s been great too.

0:29:03.7 Norah Jones: So you got into this because of its reputation, it sounds like… Has it lived up to its reputation for you?

0:29:09.0 Audrey: I really think it has. I really enjoy it, and it has lived up to its reputation, not just in the class, but also in the extracurriculars ’cause there’s a Latin Club, there are competition teams, and I’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it.

0:29:21.4 Norah Jones: So have you taken any other languages?

0:29:24.7 Audrey: No just Latin.

0:29:24.8 Norah Jones: Okay. Do you think that you might?

0:29:26.0 Audrey: Definitely in college, I think I would take Greek because that’s again, the culture… I’m very interested in the classical aspect of it, but I’ve really enjoyed Latin this far.

0:29:34.1 Norah Jones: What kind of doors is Latin opening up for you or potentially Greek?

0:29:39.2 Audrey: Latin has opened up not only the doors of mythology and the culture, but also Latin is very prevalent in the law community, and I do wanna go into law eventually, so especially with all those legal terms, Latin has been very helpful.

0:29:53.3 Norah Jones: In what way also has Latin potentially opened your thoughts to what happens in the modern culture? I know you just talked about law, but still.

0:30:03.6 Audrey: It’s very interesting, Latin is definitely very prevalent in society, whether it be through law or medical terminology or there are definitely religious aspects of it too. It is really just… I mean, Rome controlled Western world for a large portion of history, and that culture and the language is definitely permeated into almost every facet of our society.

0:30:24.5 Norah Jones: Now, when you look out and you know that there are some young people that are like, “No, I’m not gonna take a language, it’s too hard, whatever, boring,” what kind of things might you say to young people that are on the fence or maybe running away from it?

0:30:37.1 Audrey: Yeah, I mean, especially in Northside, it is required to take a language, so that has definitely helped with attendance, but I would say that it may be difficult, but there are… It’s not just the language, it’s not just the language that’s important. And if you have the right teacher, then they’ll help teach you and it really can be useful, like Latin, it’s a dead language, but it is in everywhere, but then also we’re in Texas, so Spanish is everywhere. So these languages, they may seem useless right now, but there will undoubtedly be a situation in which you’ll be grateful that you have it.

0:31:10.0 Norah Jones: Hi and you are?

0:31:10.6 Ben: I’m Ben. I’m currently in Latin 3 and I took Spanish in middle school.

0:31:19.7 Norah Jones: What made you switch, or did you add Latin to your Spanish?

0:31:24.1 Ben: So I just… Spanish just didn’t really click with me. I didn’t have the best experiences with it and I’ve just… I’ve decided to join Latin and I feel more at home, I guess. I mean I can… I understand things better and I’ve come to just appreciate Latin more than I did Spanish, despite living in San Antonio.

0:31:50.8 Norah Jones: Very interesting. And when you think about what it is that has changed for you now, potentially for opportunities or interests, has Latin in particular helped you in any way in that way?

0:32:06.0 Ben: I’d say Latin has definitely helped me, vocabulary is one huge thing, and just almost every language I mean more than… A ton of languages, I should say, have Latin as a like a root, and if you can understand Latin, then you have bits and pieces of every language. And I feel like it helps me in that there’s certain aspects like as previously mentioned medical terminology, law, and then also, I’m big into dinosaurs and stuff, even though it’s… A lot of the dinosaurs are named… Have Latin like name origins. So that’s one thing, but that’s a personal…

0:32:52.5 Norah Jones: Well, that’s what languages are all about, right? The personal thing. What would you say to folks that are thinking about maybe not taking a language or struggling?

0:33:04.0 Ben: I’d say find the one that fits like with your ambition or find the one that you can just kind of click with, I guess, that just works with you. Spanish didn’t work with me, but I went to Latin and Latin just is a lot… I just worked better doing Latin than I did Spanish, so.

0:33:29.8 Norah Jones: But you illustrate something that languages differ and as we differ as humans, so that you found that there was a different route.

0:33:41.1 Ben: Yes, I definitely felt like Latin… I just fit better in the Latin than I did the Spanish, so.

0:33:49.2 Norah Jones: That’s great. Thank you. I appreciate it. Any other comments for me or anything else that you thought of while you were listening to each other?

0:33:54.1 Audrey: I would say, although it may be difficult to pursue a language initially, it’s definitely worth a try. There’s lots of different opportunities out there for you and you’ll get to meet a lot of different new people, maybe even forming bond with a lot of other students or even teachers and just diverse communities altogether. So definitely give it a try. Like Ben said, definitely go and seek the language that best suits you because there is plenty out there, you know, and it’s just a really great opportunity to keep in touch with any kind of culture around the world, so.

0:34:29.5 Norah Jones: Thank you.

0:34:30.3 Audrey: It really isn’t just the language, like it is language, but it’s not just conjugating verbs and learning adjectives, it’s the culture of the place, it’s the people that you’ll meet, it’s the communities that you’ll become a part of, a language isn’t just a language, especially in high school, they… Especially the educators here at Clark, have done a very good job of making it a community and a culture, and that is definitely something that you’ll carry with you and it’ll broaden your horizons and help your perspective later on in life, so I would very much recommend it.

0:34:57.8 Norah Jones: And you are?

0:35:00.2 Melissa: Melissa.

0:35:00.4 Norah Jones: Hi Melissa, what language do you take?

0:35:03.6 Melissa: French.

0:35:04.6 Norah Jones: What year are you in?

0:35:05.6 Melissa: I am in junior year.

0:35:07.9 Norah Jones: Okay, and so it’s French what?

0:35:09.5 Melissa: 3.

0:35:09.6 Norah Jones: 3. Oh. So you’ve been taking French for three years now? Mm-hmm. What do you think of it?

0:35:14.6 Melissa: It’s really fun. It’s a great opportunity.

0:35:16.6 Norah Jones: Why did you decide to take French?

0:35:18.9 Melissa: Going into high school, I wanted something that was really diverse, and I thought that France and French specifically would be a cool opportunity.

0:35:26.2 Norah Jones: How did you come up with the idea that it would be diverse?

0:35:31.3 Melissa: The French teacher at Clark is actually very good at being creative because he’s from France and he speaks multiple languages, like German, so we learn a lot more in that class than just French.

0:35:44.4 Norah Jones: So that opens up a variety of doors. What other kinds of things do you learn then from a person that is multi-lingual while you’re taking a specific language?

0:35:53.9 Melissa: We learn a lot about the cultures, so we learn about French foods and German foods, and a lot of holidays that they celebrate in France.

0:36:02.7 Norah Jones: Do you have something specific? You’re like, I never knew I was good at this, and now I realize I am.

0:36:07.2 Melissa: Pronunciation. We do a lot of speaking in French class, and my French teacher thinks that I’m really good at grammar and speaking fluently in French.

0:36:18.3 Norah Jones: Do you think that you will continue your studies?

0:36:22.1 Melissa: Yes.

0:36:22.2 Norah Jones: And why is that? And what do you think that you might do with it in life?

0:36:27.6 Melissa: I think that it’s a great opportunity because I can use it in my future career, if I ever want to go to France one day and possibly speak French for my job then I can definitely do that.

0:36:38.0 Norah Jones: That’s fantastic, thank you very much. And you are?

0:36:41.0 Desiree: Desiree.

0:36:41.3 Norah Jones: Hi Desiree and what class do you take?

0:36:44.6 Desiree: I’m in French for AP.

0:36:47.6 Norah Jones: You’ve been in it for a while?

0:36:48.5 Desiree: Yes.

0:36:49.9 Norah Jones: Tell me about your growth in French and what you’ve learned.

0:36:55.1 Desiree: It was definitely a little difficult at first, learning a whole new set of grammar and words, but as you get more into it, you learn more how to like pick up the systems and it almost becomes like second nature.

0:37:09.6 Norah Jones: What made you decide to start French at first?

0:37:13.7 Desiree: I wanted to try something different than Spanish or German that they have, and I thought it was really cool that they had French at Clark so I thought it would be really fun to take that.

0:37:24.1 Norah Jones: Have you taken any other languages.

0:37:25.1 Desiree: No, French is just my first one.

0:37:27.4 Norah Jones: Sometimes young people don’t wanna take language, they think it’s too hard or it might be too boring and there’s no point. What can you say to them?

0:37:35.8 Desiree: It’s a great way to open up your opportunities and places that you can sometimes go in the future, if you wanna leave the US, you can always have that second option, ’cause you can learn you are fluent.

0:37:47.8 Norah Jones: What would you say to parents and guardians that are maybe like, “No, no, don’t take a language”? What can you say to them?

0:37:57.6 Desiree: Not only for diversity, but it’s a great academic option because you see yourself excel in your own language and other languages and especially mathematics and sciences, you just start thinking more deeply.


0:38:09.1 Norah Jones: Thank you very much. It was a great encouragement for me to be able to listen to these young people as they talked about the ways that languages touch their lives and bring new opportunities for them. I hope that you too had a chance to hear how language in your life or in the lives of your students, your employees, your community, your family, can help bring confidence, thinking new ways, understanding connections, bring new opportunities, reconnect with our own heritage and connect across global lines. Language studies in the United States are still often imperiled by budget choices, by turning towards the idea that technology is the only type of language that our young people are going to need to know.
0:39:11.0 Norah Jones: But as we continue to listen to Young VOICES, we’ll have a chance to hear how the humanity that has got to be able to emerge in a technological era is the only hope that we have that humans continue to be humans while computers and machines do what they do best. Our connections to ourselves and to each other in a deeply human way happen through language. Let’s support that, let’s understand that, let’s celebrate that, let’s encourage that in others and encourage it in ourselves, let’s take the steps to make sure that this technological world and our technological future is also fully human and fully humane. It’s about language. Thank you so much for joining me in this podcast, and I look forward to speaking with you again next time.

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