Friday, January 28, 2005

Perds ton audition, apprends une langue.

An unexpected outcome of going deaf is that I have begun learning a third language and dramatically increased my ability to read and write my second.

This occurred to me today as I reviewed a French document sent to me by one of our member organizations. Part of my role is to be here as an advisor to staff and volunteers in our member organizations, to review things like requests for funding and make suggestions for changes that might help them get the cash.

When I lost my hearing some of my roles at work shrank or disappeared (participation in public meetings and conferences) while others expanded. The advisory role to members expanded. And since New Brunswick is an officially bilingual province and since it has a large and healthy Francophone population, some of those organizations speak French as their first lanaguage, and their documents are in French.

So for the last five months or so I have been working part-time on French documents. I am easily able to read in French (particularly in this situation where the context and vocabularly are familiar to me) with a dictionary at my elbow but am not yet able to submit my recommendations in French. (The goal, after all, is to help them.) Fortunately for me, my French colleages are fine with this (as well as being fluently bilingual, the case of 98% of Francophone New Brunswickers) and can use the recommendation en anglais, and the system works fine.

And then of course there is ASL, an entirely new language, which I am learning.

Lose your hearing, pick up a language or two.



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