Even curiouser: a postscript

My mum read the last post, and phoned me up to remind me that my favourite book from the library was a picture dictionary, in French, by the wonderful Richard Scarry.

I thought I’d share that, not as further proof of my odd obsessions as a child (my other most-frequently borrowed book was a huge origami manual) but in praise of Richard Scarry, on the one hand, whose signature worm-in-a-hat is sadly missing from the front cover. His book Things (which I borrowed from my junior school library) is still a source of truly terrible puns and a little giggle to myself when I think of those squiggly, fingerprint-like Things (going from Bad to Worse, on a bus, but of course!).

And in praise of public and school libraries on the other hand – where else would generations of children get access to reference materials on whatever strange and magical subjects they alight on, and books which will fuel their imagination for decades to come?

Curiouser and curiouser… Or: an autobiography in languages

As yet another editorial on the importance of learning foreign languages does the rounds, I’ve been wondering how it was that I got interested in languages. I’ve got no family connections to German or Germany – which is pretty much the first thing anyone asks when I say that’s what I teach – but even at age 10, before I started learning languages at school, and without ever having been abroad, I wanted to be a languages teacher (though back then it was French that I was most interested in).

I can’t quite explain why. I just did. Maybe it was the fact of moving from one end of the country to another at a young age – Glaswegian is not (quite!) another language, but it’s different enough from the English spoken in Kent/SE London to make you aware of language differences at least. That seems a bit overblown and romantic though – maybe if I were a character in a novel, that would be the underlying cause, but it sounds a bit too autobiographical a reading for real life. Continue reading