As a multilingual black woman who longed for a community of language learners that
looked like me, I decided to start Black Girls Learn Languages, a multiplatform digital
community for black women who are passionate about language. I created this platform to
inspire, encourage and motivate black language learners by providing a space for us [black
women], sharing useful language learning resources as well as raising awareness by
celebrating black multilinguals.
Many people always ask me how did I get so passionate about languages. As far back as I
can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by other languages. Being from Brooklyn, NY,
foreign languages are something you hear on a daily basis. I remember even as a toddler,
trying to learn from my Spanish speaking pre-k classmates.
What motivated me to start my platform, was a feeling of isolation in language classes. My
classmates often treated our classes as the mandatory credit for graduation. The ones who
were passionate about it, didn’t look like me. Even when I tried to connect with them, there
were certain concepts that frustrated me (for example, the difficulty in translating black
vernacular), that they didn’t seem to understand. I knew there were others like me who
would understand, but I just couldn’t seem to find them.
Flash forward to a few years ago, I looked for the community online and saw that there was none, so I decided to start it. Since launching in 2017, my platform has garnered more than 8,000 social media followers across multiple platforms including a growing Facebook
forum with more than 1K members.
I’m proud to say that, to date, Black Girls Learn Languages has appeared in media outlets including Travel Noire, Blvcklists, NewsBreak, and was even mentioned in Black Enterprise. I’ve also been featured and reached out to by popular mobile language learning apps including Tandem, Clozemaster, and FluentU. Not only that, but I’m a published writer and co-author, a public speaker and have been interviewed on several podcasts.
I also love how my purpose has grown. I realized that I also want to focus on helping
black women develop professionally by way of multilingualism. In the near future, I
plan on offering preparatory courses, webinars and consultations. In the further out
future, I hope to offer scholarships and fellowships someday.
Author : Shahidah Foster