It’s (not) All Greek to Me

Swiss exchange student Ida Nussbaumer uses her love of reading to further her knowledge of English and Spanish

To some people, reading is a chore; to others, it’s a chance to explore any world  as portrayed through paper and ink. For Ida Nussbaumer (10), a Swiss exchange student, the joy of reading has inspired her to start a book blog and to further master the English language.

At a young age, Ida knew no one who appreciated books as much as she did. To share her excitement, she created a book blog where she could voice her thoughts on the books she read. “I didn’t have many friends who read that much [at the time] so I just wrote about the books…I think almost every book that I’ve read inspired me to write about it, because the topic was interesting and the book brought me to think about it,” said Nussbaumer.

Her book blog allowed her to reach audiences across the world via the internet. However, Nussbaumer later took her exploration through reading a step further.  Reading is Ida’s primary motivation to master the English language.  German translations, which Nussbaumer originally relied on, were often less accurate. “I started reading in English about three years ago…I think [reading in English] is better because it is the original language [books] are written in” said Nussbaumer. Translations of new books also often take significant time. While English-speakers enjoyed newly-released books, Ida would have to await the translation.  “[Translated books were] always kind of a bummer, because the books came out in America and you have to wait,” said Nussbaumer

Motivated by her love of reading, Ida became fluent in English.  In order to immerse herself in the language and improve her conversational English skills, she then decided to join the foreign exchange program and attend Monarch.  “[The english language] is a hard language…Learning languages is hard, but the best way to learn it is to try to speak it,” said Nussbaumer

Now that she’s fluent, she is expanding her horizons by taking a Spanish world language class. It is challenging to learn Spanish in an English speaking class, as Ida is simultaneously still developing her English skills. However, Nussbaumer hopes it will help her to further understand English, and even allow her to begin thinking in the language.“I will say it’s a little difficult, but a great opportunity to develop myself,” Nussbaumer said.

Though many use reading to explore fictional worlds, Ida has used her love of books to expand her knowledge of the real world. Whether Swiss German, English, or Spanish, the written word is Ida’s key to fluency.