New classes open door for personal growth in ways from business to pleasure

by: REVIEW PHOTO: CLIFF NEWELL -  Massene Mboup and Jan Wirtz display some of the appealing posters that Mboup will be using in his new French class at the West End Building in September. Thanks to the city of Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation Department, you no longer need to risk embarrassment when going to a Paris cafe. Or a bistro in Beijing.

Instead, you can order crepe Suzettes, or whatever, with complete confidence. Plus become richer, make friends and influence people, all because you will be able to speak French and/or Chinese.

The city of LO has had a successful adult Spanish instruction program for almost a decade, but now it is offering classes for adults in French and Chinese. It is a very good idea, because a rapidly changing world demands it.

“We’re looking for people interested in languages, whatever the reason,” said Jan Wirtz, supervisor of city cultural programs. “There are so many good reasons for learning a second language. So many people work in business in foreign countries. There are also service workers, medical workers and engineers. It’s a great way to become a better citizen of the world.”

Wirtz pointed out that Canada is right on Oregon’s doorstep and that Mexico is not far away either. As for China, its incredible economic boom makes it a wise decision to learn Chinese.

“We’re also getting closer and closer to our European friends,” Wirtz added.

As for signing up new students for the French class, Wirtz has a good idea where to start.

“Take myself for instance,” Wirtz said. “I took French all through school. I love French. I think it’s the most romantic language that there is. I’m asking my friends, ‘Do you want to take French with me?’ “

Wirtz has lined up an expert to teach French to Lake Oswegans in Massene Mboup, director of the International Leadership Academy in Lake Oswego. His profession is also his passion — helping people learn a new language.

Mostly, Mboup gets his students when they are young. “Kids are language learning machines,” he said. But he can teach adults to learn, too, if they keep one thing in mind.

“The sillier you are, the faster you learn,” Mboup said.

By that he doesn’t mean for his students to start making faces and funny noises in class. He encourages adult learners to have fewer inhibitions, just like a kid does, and not be afraid of the inevitable embarrassment that comes with learning a new language.

A native of Africa, Mboup himself made his share of howlers when he came to live and teach in the USA, and he can help students avoid the pitfalls of language; coming to know French and English words that sound very similar yet have very different meanings.

Still, Mboup offers encouragement to new language learners.

“People always know more than they think they do,” he said. “You come in thinking, ‘I’m at the zero level in learning French.’ But you really are at Level 1 or even Level 2.”

For Chinese, the instructor will be Wen-Chyou Kuo, a native of Taiwan who has been teaching Chinese to English speakers for more than 20 years. Her experience includes teaching at Marylhurst University.

“Teaching language is my passion,” Kuo said. “I love the fact that I can share my Chinese culture and the language with my students and that they become so deeply involved in it.”

Learning a new language can make your dreams come true.

‘I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and listen to people talk in a café,” Wirtz said. “That would be so wonderful. You could pick up a little here and a little there and you feel like you’re part of the culture.”

To register for Spanish, French and Chinese language classes, call 503-675-2549 or go to Classes will be held in the West End Building at 4101 Kruse Way.

Deadlines for registration are Sept. 21 for Chinese and French and Sept. 25 for Spanish. Chinese instruction begins Sept. 24, French classes start Sept. 25 and Spanish classes begin Sept. 27 and 28. Classes will be offered both during the day and evenings.

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