Imagine enjoying a Spanish class so much, you and your classmates beg your teacher to offer another class! That’s just what happened to Fort Wayne residents Jill Brigman and her husband, Greg. They are currently taking their second Conversational Spanish Class at IPFW with teacher, Paula Booth. “Our class is very close,” says Brigman. They often visit places such as Tropic Chicken or other restaurants where they can practice speaking Spanish with the servers.
The Brigmans, licensed realtors at Century 21 Bradley, deal with clients of all nationalities – Burmese, Bosnian, Pakistani, Indian, and increasingly, Spanish speakers. The international base of clients in Fort Wayne is growing in Brigman’s estimation. Learning a second language can only help her in her work.
In addition, the couple frequently travels to Florida and Mexico where speaking Spanish would come in handy, says Brigman. Once an international flight attendant, she says she and her husband will use their new language skills in their future travels.
For Brigman, it’s easier to understand Spanish than it is to speak it, and so it’s fun for her and her husband to get together with their fellow students once a week to practice.
Frederique Ward has been teaching French for about 20 years, ever since she came to the United States from France with her husband — first to California, and then to Fort Wayne where her husband is from.
To Ward, no one is too old to learn a second language – she’s successfully taught students up to the age of 60 learn French. She believes “there’s no limit — (you’re) not too old if you really want to learn. It’s quite possible to learn – maybe it’s harder to pronounce – (because) the tongue is not as flexible,” but it can be accomplished if the desire is there.
In her experience, some students took her classes where she formerly taught at IPFW because they had to, but some did it who “really loved the language” and French culture. Those were the students she found most rewarding to teach.
Sometimes the desire to learn a language has its heart in family tradition. Tina Bossingham is now a permanent substitute teacher in Owyhee, Nev. on the isolated Duck Valley Indian Reservation. The job is full circle for Bossingham – her father pastored on the reservation before she was born and even named her after one of the girls there. Bossingham always longed to become a part of what her family spoke so fondly of. A few years ago, she did just that when she learned of the reservation’s desperate need for teachers.
As a result, she began taking Shoshone language classes. The school has recently dropped the language from its program, and Bossingham wants to teach what she learns to the children to preserve their heritage. She’s even learning to teach theater so she can have the children write and perform plays in Shoshone, or translate the plays for them! She takes weekly lessons with a group of five to 10 other students. The language, she says, is not easy to learn.
Beyond communicating and learning about the culture, studying another language provides mental stimulation, says Ward. As one gets older “The mind slows; (you must) challenge yourself,” she says. Whether you want to learn for your career or for personal enrichment, Fort Wayne has its share of opportunities to learn a second language. Ward teaches private lessons and/or classes for all ages. Email her at fortwaynefrench@ gmail.com or call her at (260)-672-1080. Additional language classes are available through the Parks and Recreations Department (260) 427-6000 and IPFW at 1 (866) 597-0010.
Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer