Friday, April 23, 2010

"Learning a Foreign Language is a Waste of Time," what?!

I just finished reading Jay Mathews' most recent post on his Washington Post education blog, 'Class Struggle,' and I am left completely flabbergasted.

"Learning a language is often a waste of time," he explains in his blog titled 'Why Waste Time on a Foreign Language.' He goes on to say that while learning a foreign language "improves cognitive development, [...] enhances academic skills, encourages a sense of the wider world and looks good to colleges," it is still pretty much pointless for high schools to continue to include foreign language study in their curriculum because "there is little evidence that many students achieve much fluency in high school."

Oh, ok, so this is too hard and if everyone is not going to be perfect at learning a foreign language then we should just quit because why bother, right? Because the past four years of my life that I devoted to studying a foreign language, living in a foreign country and all that jazz that eventually led to my current career path and meeting my current life partner, that was really all just a waste because, still, I am not actually fluent in French yet.

What bullshit!!

He even had the audacity to throw in the quote from an actual high school teacher saying, "I'd wager close to 80 percent of kids taking foreign languages in high school do so because they have to."

Well no shit. I bet there is a pretty high percentage of kids who only go to school because they have to, but do you see anyone trying to shut down the schools (well I guess with all the budget cuts they pretty much are).

You want to know why students aren't fluent after a few years of high school Spanish or French--it's because it's not possible in our education system! Do you really think that by studying a foreign language one started learning at age 15 for about five hours a week is really going to be effective? How about adding more language requirements in junior high, and elementary school! That is what should be done to solve this problem.

I have spent this past year teaching English abroad at the elementary level. My students are shocked that American children do not need to study foreign languages at the primary level.

Of course, it is not like my six-year-olds are able to carry on the most intelligent of conversations, but language acquisition at a young age is so important and can make all the difference in future language learning abilities.

Sure, English is spoken everywhere, so what's the point, right? Well go on Americans, make us look even more like a bunch of jerks. Yeah, we will just hire other people to do our work for us, because that's a great idea for when people turn against us.

Sorry, but I was just completely astounded by this and had to vent. I apologize for my harshness, but seriously, come on people!

You can read Mr. Mathews' blog here:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Great Night for a Great Charity!

As some of you may know, I am a member of the American Women's Club of Gothenburg (a member of the Federation of American Womens' Clubs Overseas). I also have just been voted in as the new Programs Co-Chair of the Gothenburg Chapter and therefore am extra-excited to promote our upcoming charity event in May.

On Friday, May 21, at 7:00pm, we are hosting a wonderful evening of music, drinking and eating. How awesome does that sound?!

We are welcoming the world-renowned Yale Alley Cats from Yale University to serenade us for an evening while we raise support for the Bibi2Bibi charity- an organization helping disadvantaged grandmothers of AIDS orphaned children in Tanzania.

The event is at Örgryte’s historical Överås Mansion in Gothenburg and tickets must be ordered in advance.

Tickets are 300 SEK and can be purchased through our Plusgiro account 50 55 17-3.

For guest list purposes, be sure to include the number of people, and one or more names from your party in the message field. We must receive your payment before May 10 in order to hold your reservation!!

Venue: Överås Mansion, Danska Vägen 20 (click for map). Free parking is available at the mansion. If you're arriving by tram, take the #5 to Sankt Sigfrids Plan, and walk up-hill on Danska Vägen. The mansion is on the left, after approximately 400 meters. It is the first property on the left which has a large lawn looking out towards the street.

Here is a link to the event blog for more information:

The Yale Alley Cats:


Överås Mansion:

AWC Gothenburg:

If anyone is in town and would like to attend--please let me know!!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My child self...

I am not sure why, but for some reason I am very much connected with my childhood self. Not in the way of “letting your inner child out every once in a while,” but in a way that I never grew out of that self of mine and I am in constant contact with it in everyday life.

I always check-in with child Liana. It is her approval I seek when making life choices—anywhere from where should I live, work and what should I wear. Everything always comes down to “would my child self be proud of this? Are these the dreams I had imagined while playing dress-up and beauty parlor and dolls?”

I like sitting and brining my mind back to my younger youth. When I thought that having extra-long hair that flowed down past my bottom would be the most amazing thing (and of course having it swept to one side over the front of my face so that one eye was covered. That one-eye covered by hair was key to the “sexy” image I had at 7).

My memories are like a mixed-media photo album—some plain snap-shots, but mostly little short films, often times silent, with no sound.

They pop into my mind randomly, like a fantasy I had when I was a child—it is me spinning in a grass field in a long-white dress. And my hair is long and wavy. I think it is because of that image that I have bought a profuse amount of white dresses in my lifetime. Each Spring I purchase at least five. And then I remember that one perfect dress I had as a child—the one I always had to wear. It was white, with small pink roses on it and the straps crossed in the back. Maybe I buy so many white dresses in hopes to one day be reunited with that one perfect one of my childhood.

One day when I was about five, I could not find that dress anymore. I remember wondering what happened to it, and then never seeing it again. I must have grown out of it and my mother must have packed it away, but still, I am forever searching for it.

When I feel nostalgia from a place, it is confirmation that I have succeeded in finding something my inner self is satisfied with. I have felt that with Sweden now, especially during this time when the Winter is over and the sun is creeping out and warming up to Summer. So yes, another decision that child Liana likes. I am on the right track.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

America is my country and Göteborg is my hometown

They are putting up the ferris wheel now--summer is coming!!

I have, yet again, been neglecting this blog and now, I have no excuses. I am not incredibly busy and don't have a million things to do at once. Nope, for the past week and a half I have taken on the role of "Swedish housewife," and I think I might be taking it a bit too far.

My arrival in Sweden was, as always, a joyful one. After Jonatan picked me up from Landvetter airport we went straight up to his parents' home in Uddevalla to enjoy the rest of the Easter weekend with his father (his mother was down in Aix visiting Alex and the babies).

I always enjoy weekends in Uddevalla because I know I will sleep and eat well and enjoy quiet evenings reading or watching Svenska Hollywoodfruar :)

Last week, back in the city, the pleasantness continued. Jonatan is now working full-time at his internship, so the days are mine to have and do pretty much whatever I want in Göteborg.

So I have been meeting up with my friends in the American Women's Club of Göteborg (we are preparing for a big benefit cocktail party/concert to raise money for Bibi2bibi, along with the Yale Alley Cats who are coming to spend the weekend in our city), I admit, I have shopped a bit--but not too much, and I have been enjoying the absolutely beautiful weather we have been blessed with here. Early morning walks along the Göteborg harbor are such a treat with the shining sun!

However, the past two days I seem to have slightly fallen off my path of go-go-Göteborg and found myself sitting in my lounge clothes at 2:00 in the afternoon sipping a glass of white wine and watching Sex and the City (with Swedish subtitles!! I am also practicing my svenska while I am here!).

Ok, so new goals--start writing more regularly, get in shape, practice that Swedish and check out all the new exhibits in town. Because God knows I have the time!!

More updates to come!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Le Départ

Well here I am. 9:00AM on the day of my departure from the North of France.

My suitcase has surely exceeded its weight limit, and perhaps so have I with the profuse amounts of wine, bread and cheese I have been stuffing myself with lately--my final French indulgences in case it should be a while until my next taste.

Looking back I have feelings of satisfaction, embarassement, and also simple happiness. I really can't remember what I expected this year to be. There were so many uncertainties followed by so many regrets and anxieties after my arrival.

I scowled myself for my complaints and those times when I had quitting on my mind, but I know that this was a challenge, large or small, and I have completed and succeeded, nevertheless.

This year I have seen The Netherlands, England, Belgium and of course Sweden, and places in France I had never before visited.

I have tasted cow tongue, eaten chantilly in Chantilly, reunited with old friends in Paris, gotten to really know my brother and was welcomed into so many homes and families as one of their own. This year was a year of saints--of people completely selflessly opening themselves up and offering them to me. Never before, especially in my times in France, have I seen so much warmth and kindness. What I will take away most from this year are the people, for I know with the friends I have made during my stay here, we are not saying "au revoir"today, but instead "à bientôt."

My last day of classes was yesterday, and by far one of the greatest highlights of this experience has been teaching and my wonderful students and colleagues.

I was given my own personal farewell concert with a medley of English songs including "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," "Summer Nights," "Maria," and many more classics. I was bombarded with hugs, kisses, homemade cards and gifts and, the greatest compliment, tears from my teachers and recognition that I can truly be a teacher.

I have loved my time teaching and I now am aware of the incredible effect children have on me. I am still not sure where this life of mine is going, but for the first time I am not stressed by that. I am content in seeing it play out, however long it shall take.

Merci, France. Another unforgettable year.

Now on to the next one...

Making Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches with Mme Lardenois' class

M Dufour's class--the troublemakers

I have so many gifts I don't know what to do with them!

My special class--M Pawlac, Yuto, Alix and Elena