The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South speaker suggests learning 2nd language

By Emina Gibic/reporter

Learning a new language is like taking one’s brain to the gym, a South Campus audience learned April 9.

Raymond Roels, an engineer who was born in Antwerp, Belgium, during World War II, spoke about his experiences with learning new languages.

“I received a bachelor’s degree in electronics and then quickly joined the Belgian air force academy,” he said. “I spent the next 21 years living in various countries as a liaison.”

Roels’ native language is Flemish although he learned German, French and English while going to school in Belgium. After being stationed in El Paso, he also learned Spanish. 

“I moved to Fort Worth in 1986 to work for several major aerospace companies,” he said. “I also conducted training for TCC corporate services for non-English speakers.”

Roels said the one thing he has noticed is that the more languages a person learns, the easier it is to gain fluency in the next language.

“When you learn a new language and you get this frustration that is so overwhelming, just ignore it,” he said.

The keys to having success in learning a new language is learning to listen, recognize and then link the sound to the written word, Roels said.

“Listen to music, read newspapers and watch television networks in the language you are trying to learn,” he said. “This will force you to understand what the words mean.”

Motivation is the most important key to success because without motivation, it’s hard to master the language, Roels said.

Learning a new language has a proven effect on intellectual growth, Roels said.

“There are studies that link learning a new language to a delayed onset of Alzheimer’s,” he said. “Learning a new language can also enhance your knowledge of English structure and vocabulary because you have to scrutinize each word when you translate.”

Studies show children who grew up multilingual scored higher on math and critical reading tests, Roels said.

“Cultural awareness is another benefit of learning a new language,” he said. “When a person visits a country and makes the effort to learn a few words, they will be accommodated and accepted instantly.”

Maria Artiles, a South Campus French student, enjoyed hearing Roels’ experiences.

“I liked that he had experience and knows a lot of languages,” she said. “Plus, I loved his accent.”

Roels said everyone experiences a learning plateau, a period of time when people think they are learning nothing. He said to just ignore that feeling and give the process some time.

“When I was learning English, there were several times when I didn’t know a word for something, so I got creative,” he said. “When I didn’t know the word ‘vacuum,’ I would say ‘dust sucker.’ And when I didn’t know the word ‘potato peeler,’ I would say ‘the thing that undresses the potato.’”

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