I agree - four years of a foreign language seems so little that it's hard to see why anyone would want their child to do less! But I think where we came in was HK's problem which was about the difficulty of getting appropriate teaching, not about not wanting it.

Yes, you lose languages if you don't practise them. But IME they come back fast too when you need them, and the more experience you have learning languages, the easier it is to learn the next one, especially if it's in the same family as one you've learned before. I haven't had a class in any foreign language for well over a decade, but I've picked up a Duolinguo habit in the last couple of weeks and could now order a sandwich in any of the 5 it offers.

And a beer, more importantly. Before I had DS and life got too busy, I used to have the good habit of learning a little of the language of any country I was going to, and I used to count how many languages I could ask for "two beers, please" in. I had 12 at one point, without putting a huge effort or expense in. And this is important for enjoying travel - even if English is the language of business where you're going, you can't rely on it being the language of the good place where the locals eat and drink! In fact I remember with amusement being in Portugal with an American friend and colleague and wanting to order at some slightly out of the way place. He took charge and ordered in slow loud English. We waited. And waited. I wasn't convinced he'd been understood, but he poohpoohed my concern. Nevertheless, we didn't get our order until I'd repeated it in Portuguese. I haven't let him forget this occasion :-)

Last edited by ColinsMum; 08/24/13 09:10 AM. Reason: counted, and found I'd overestimated how many languages I used to be able to drink in

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