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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If you could learn another language...

Growing up, I always wanted to learn French. My hometown, Manchester, New Hampshire, is the 2nd largest French speaking city in America. (New Orleans is #1). I love listening to French being spoken. The accents and words have such a natural flow and graceful feel to my ear. I took 3 years of French in high school and I wish I could have taken more.

I have to say my high school offered a wide variety of languages, too. There was German, Spanish, Latin, and Greek.

I have a lot of respect for those who can speak a 2nd language. It requires a talent, a tenancy, a passion for learning, and a dedication that I admire.

For my day job, I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher and we staff 4 dedicated lines for Spanish, so if we have a person calling in who only speaks Spanish, we can transfer them to our Spanish lines. Our Spanish interpreters are sharp, witty, have a sense of humor, but also caring, sensitive, and kind – very well rounded if you ask me.

That's how I envisioned my interpreter, Sofia, in "A Polish Heart." She's kind, caring, and sharp. She adores her family and loves her country. When Sofia meets Darrin, she wants to do a good job interpreting for him. Her wholehearted honesty shines through and that's an inner quality, which Darrin can't help but be attracted to.

Question: If you could learn a 2nd language, which one would it be? Why?

Blurb for A Polish Heart: Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?

Opening Line: This was going to be the most challenging thing he'd ever done in his life.

Book Trailer:

7, 5 Star Amazon Reader Reviews

"Heartwarming tale of romance," Joy Cagil, Amazon Reader

"This is an excellent read," vlvm, Amazon Reader

"Totally enjoyable read," Tara Manderino, Amazon Reader

Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007AS29AO

Smashwords Buy Link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/164429

About the Author: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She spent 11 years in the US Army, 7 years overseas in Germany. She loves traveling, reading, and hanging out with her boys.


  1. Hi Steph. I'm impressed that you speak French. I'm a dropout of an adult ed. college course in French. But I would like to learn to speak Spanish as so many of our citizens are now Hispanic.

  2. Linda, actually, I'm just a hair under fluent. All the fluency tests I take, I fail by one or two points. It's very frustrating. If I could take some more classes to get me over the hump, I would. I understand most of what you tell me and my pronouncation is pretty decent, but that's about it. But I would like to finish my French studies before trying another language.


  3. HI Steph,
    I've always wanted to speak French and Spanish. French, because it sounds so fluid and romantic and Spanish because we have a large Hispanic population in our area. I envy those to whom other languages come easily. Our schools didn't require a 2nd language and I think that's a shame.

    Beautiful photo of the Eiffel Tower and an excellent blog.

  4. Yes,Steph, your Sofia, in A Polish Heart, is kind, caring, and sharp. As for language I'm fluent in three languages, English, French, and Arabic. And can read Italian. I wish I could learn Spanish. I think it's too late for me. Ten years ago I tried to learn Russian and managed a few rudimentary sentences. I'm always ready to help authors with French words in their books.

  5. Steph,
    I had 4 years of French and 2 of Spanish in high school. Then I had 2 semesters of Spanish in college. But because of where we live (Oklahoma) and as many Hispanics as we have here, my French is pretty well gone, conversationally. I can do a lot better when I read it, though. Spanish, I know much better at this point in time. I am not fluent in it by any means, and reading it is still more comfortable in the "understanding" dept. than speaking it with someone. My daughter understands and speaks it much better than I do. In OK schools now, Spanish is required. They teach it in the elementary programs here (introductory words, etc.) and by the time middle school rolls around it's required. In high school, there are choices of languages.

    WOW MONA! I am impressed, girl!

  6. I speak German and French and can shop and eat in Italian and Spanish. I do wish I would have learned latin.

  7. I was never interested in speaking another language until, it cost me some jobs, because I did not speak french.. But I was never good at picking up other languages. My dad always wanted me to learn Gaelic' too. Maybe I will start, they say your never too old to learn..

  8. Stephanie, you've brought up a topic which interests me - in all honesty, I could probably "bore for England" on this subject! LOL
    I spent 8 years in the tender care of the Jesuits at a 'traditional' Grammar school in the '60s - i.e. BEFORE a series of weak so-called 'governments' managed to dilute the standards of teaching and learning in schools across the UK.
    Our Head Teacher insisted that ALL foreign languages would be taught by native tongue teachers. We were taught French BY French teachers, Spanish by Spanish teachers, Italian teachers doubled as Latin masters, even classical Greek was treated the same way.
    He never found a German teacher whose qualifications measured up to his exacting standards. German was therefore not taught at St.Francis Xaviers Grammar ... today, my Alma Mater is still recognised as a Centre of Excellence for Modern Languages.
    33 in my class, ALL achieved A+ in EVERY language exam (I took Latin,French,English,Music and sailed through Uni afterwards).
    Languages are like riding a bike. It's a Habit,and once you've learned the basics you never forget!
    After Uni I taught myself 3 of the four Scandinavian languages and picked up enough German to man a switchboard.
    More recently, Kathleen, I've taught myself Gaelic. All I can say is, it's a beautiful language: don't give up!!

  9. Steph--great job on the post. I'd have to learn Spanish--I live in Texas. We were on our way to picking up some of the language by traveling to the interior of Mexico, to the beautiful part in the Sierra Madre Mountains. But with all the violence now, we had to stop. Still I'd like to learn--I can only pick out words and phrases.
    Other than that, my brain doesn't do foreign languages!

  10. Becca, my school didn't require the second language, but most everyone I knew had a passion to learn one. French had to be the most popular in my school, but all of the classes, even Latin had a good amount of people.

    I took a Spanish class when I first got out this way in 1999 and the teacher had pity on me and gave me a C for effort. I had a bad habit of putting the French accents on the words.

    Mona, wow - 3 languages! That's great. I can imagine Arabic was a challenge. Given the time, I'd like to finish my French studies.

    Cheryl, that's very high speed - teaching Spanish in elementary. I think when I was growing up, French was introduced in Jr. High. We have a high Spanish population out our way, too.

    Ella, LOL!! Yes, I can shop and eat out in German. I did learn that after spending 7 years in Germany. When I was overseas and I made an attempt to speak and learn the language, the Germans I interacted with really appreciated that.

    Kathleen, no you are never too old learn! Once the boys leave the roost I just might try to finish my French off. Try for the Gaelic. You might surprise yourself.

    Paul, wow, what an experience - and I definately think there's something to be offered and learned from native language speakers. They understand the nauances of their language very well.

    Celia, my Spanish is abymisal. Partly because of th reason I mentioned before, but I couldn't roll an "r" to save my life. I understand some basics like "Habla Espanol?" I ask this to the Spanish speakers because if they say "si," I transfer them to the Spanish. Half the time they go "huh?"

    Go figure.


  11. Dear Stephanie,

    My own background in languages is similar to Paul's but I am not nearly so deep in my knowledge. I have studied several languages, but the one that I most want to learn is Irish Gaelic...perhaps because it is the most musical while at the same time the most difficult of any I've ever tried to speak. The characters in my Dawn of Ireland novels speak a smattering of Gaelic, and I really wanted to append a pronouncing glossary to the books--but the publisher, of course, balked!

    I am always drawn to any novel in which one or more of the characters speaks a language other than English. Even in a contemporary "small town western" novel I wrote, one of the characters is an old-world Italian who brings his language and ethnic values to the book.

    Great question! Slán, Erin O'Quinn

  12. I took three years of Latin in high school because I didn't want to speak a foreign language. In those days we were required to take two years of a foreign language. I ended up really benefiting from Latin because it is the root of so many languages. Our Dutch kids cannot believe I can actually figure out some of their newspapers with what little I remember. BUT, if I try to pronounce those rolling 'r' words, they laugh. I just gave up. I love to hear German spoken and love words in Spanish are inspiring.

  13. I took French in jounior high and high school but there was no one to speak to with it. Only once have I used it and that was in the ER to a distressed patient who spoke French. They did appreciate it though.
    If I had only known how much the Hispanic population would take off in North Carolina, I would have taken Spanish instead. I had to learn what I know from a medical terminology class and by emersion into their culture.
    Still, I like the sound of French better.

  14. I love French. It's my favourite language. I am also fluent in Spanish and am learning Italian and Greek. I did Latin at school and really appreciate it now. It's the basis of all the Romance languages and makes them so much easier to learn, as well as helping you understand your own language better. I did German at uni but don't like it much. Too harsh. I suspect I've forgotten it all now.

  15. Italian. I would love to speak Italian, so if--when--I go back, I can use it to more effect than I did during my visit in May. I'm fluent in Spanish (native speaker) and grew up wanting to be a U.N. interpreter. Then I found out you have to be fluent in three languages. I never could master French, and gave up, sad to say.

    Congrats on speaking French. Spanish and English (supposedly one of the hardest languages to learn), just don't help me with French.

  16. Hi Steph! I was lucky--I lived in paris for 3 years at the perfect age to learn another language. Then I studied Arabic for 7 1/2 years; studied German, Italian, Ge'ez (Ethiopic), Farsi and Turkish--none of which I can speak well! But simply studying various languages is worth it in itself to broaden vocabulary and knowledge. Would highly recommend that Americans be more exposed to other languages. Virginia's right: English IS 1 of the hardest to learn--I thank God I got to learn it as a baby! M. S. Spencer

  17. I learnt French, German and Latin at school (a long time ago!). If I go to France or Germany now, I can still understand a lot of what is being said, but I've 'lost' too much vocabulary now to speak very much.
    Agree with Jenny about the usefulness of Latin in helping you to understand English and the Romane languages.


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