Sunday, August 31, 2003

L. and I were in an elevator at Heathrow when some large blond people got in chatting voluably in a Foreign Language. We adopted a pose of studied indifference as we strained to understand what they were saying.

After they got out I said: "Could it have been Dutch--or maybe some Scandanavian language." L. said she didn't think so because she caught "Er ist." I had to grant she was right--I had caught "doch." Yes, it was German, our "best language"--the one in which we had passed our grad school language exams.

I suppose this isn't about philosophy, politics or economics--but what a waste: elementary schools offer every conceivable course except foreign languages--the only subject little kids are better at learning than older kids. St. Johns, being a fee-paying enterprise with pretensions, had a French-speaking teacher on staff who ostensibly taught French. But the curriculum was primarily about "French culture" and geography--taught in English. Whatever can the motivation for this assininity have been?