On the way to school today, Brant was munching his goldfish like a good little boy, crying out ‘BUUUSSSS!’ every time we passed one. It never gets old, those big, yellow things.
So as he yells bus every morning, Maren and I typically have a brief conversation. It usually is something about school, or what’s going on after school. I don’t even remember how today’s conversation started, but it ended up evolving into a discussion about classes you have to take when you get to high school.
We talked about science and math and gym and English. The last one stopped Maren in her tracks.
“Dad, don’t we speak English? You, know, like I use it every day, right?,” she asked.
Sure do, I said.
“Then why do we have to study it?”
Cue stammering father looking for an answer. And when is this light gonna turn green?
Um, So you know how to speak good.
“So I know how to speak well. It’s well dad.”
I know, Maren. I was testing you.
So I was stuck. And when I get stuck, I tell her what I know. In this instance, it wasn’t much. I didn’t really have a good answer.
“We take English class so we can learn to speak and write well,” I said.
Not sure if it worked, but the light turned green and we were at the drop off. But it got my wheels spinning. Why do we have to study English is a pretty good question and one that I didn’t have a sufficient answer to.
So I did what any helpless person does in today’s world: I Googled it.
Typed ‘Why do we study English in school’ in Google and got 643 billion hits (really, I’m not making that up).
I found one site, englishharmony.com, but a story there was slugged ’4 reasons why studying English won’t make you a fluent English speaker.’ Well, that sort of defeats the purpose.
Talkenglish.com tells me not to study grammar too much. Again, not what English teachers and academics want to hear.
Then, on a site that featured English as a second language (5minuteenglish,com) I found some answers. Well, answers that I think a 7-year old will be able to chew on for a while.
It listed 10 reasons to learn English and while some of them were a bit of a bore, a couple of them were what I was looking for. No. 1 stated that English is the most common language in the world among foreign language speakers, so when people of different cultures get together then can often communicate in English. In addition, the site said that English is the language of science and “to excel in science, you need to know English.”
Will those answers work with Maren? Probably not, but it’s better than saying “asking your mom.”