I could make a very good case for why learning the language of whatever country you're in is extremely important, but, because we are currently in the States, and for illustration purposes, let's just use English as our Second Language here.
Which brings me to my story.
Many years ago, when we were newlyweds, Tony did not speak much English. We used to have tons of fun with it (when it wasn't annoying and extremely inconvenient, that is). I remember living downtown, coming home from work, and heading out for a run. Back when I actually ran. Now I jog. Tony would hop on my bike and follow me through the streets of center city. I would slalom in and around all the professionals walking down the sidewalks, agile and light on my feet, and Tony would be on the bike behind me smiling and calling out to me, "Laaaadyyyy" in a really thick Spanish accent. Looking as annoyed as I could, I would roll my eyes in impatience and exasperation and almost shout, "Would you leave me alone?!? I'm NOT interested." He would smile some more and continue following me saying, "Ladyyyy...". I would then pick up the pace and try to lose him, with people staring after us wide-eyed and eyebrows raised. It was hard not to laugh!
Well, after that we moved to Argentina, so his ESL came to a halt. We moved back on 9/11 (yes, we did) and he started all over with ESL. Because we spoke Spanish at home, it was pretty slow going. But, that's another post.
One day I dropped him off for work. He wasn't feeling well and had a cold, so he popped into a local pharmacy before heading into work. With his sparse understanding of the English language, he proceeded to buy a cold remedy for himself. About 2pm, I received a phone call at work.
"Hi, honey, how are you?"
"I feel terrible."
"Oh, what's the matter?"
"I don't know, I feel horrible."
"Is it just the cold?"
"I don't know. I've never felt this bad before."
"Did you eat lunch?"
"Yeah, I just had a huge bowl of pasta."
"Oh. Well, what's wrong? How do you feel?"
"I don't know... I feel so tired... I don't know, just bad."
"Did you take anything?"
"Yeah, I stopped by the store and bought some cold medicine."
"Oh. Well, sometimes they can make you feel groggy. What did you take?"
"I don't know, I just bought whatever was there."
Ohhhh.... okay. Hmmm. Now I'm curious.
"Well, what did you take?"
"No sé. Just some jarabe (cough syrup)."
Hmmm, "Okay... what's it called?"
"Ay, no sé, (mumbled something unintelligible)."
"Well... how do you spell it?"
A moment of silence as he fumbled to find the bottle.