I’m learning French. And by, I’m learning French, what I really mean to say is that I am trying to learn French, but don’t really feel like I can even put a sentence together in French yet. I’ve been working on it for about a month and so far, I can tell you what my name is and that I would like some wine. (perhaps that’s all I need to know?) Okay, maybe I know a bit more that that, but not much. But, in about 6 months, Will and I are going to need to carry on conversations in French, so I hope my recall begins to pick up.
Initially, I was trying to learn the basics with a free program called Memrise. It is actually quite helpful in some ways and they have many languages you can choose from. So, if you are thinking of learning a new language, but you’re not sure. Try that out in the beginning instead of paying the price of an expensive language program just to find out you don’t actually like the language at all. It really is quite a good place to start. However, when you are in it for the long haul and want to actually learn the language, you (or I, in this case) realize that you really need something else.
Anyway, in my research of place to begin to learn French, I have found that it must be difficult to write progressive learning materials for languages. Where do you start? Who are you writing for? Do you need to know phrases first (like, “where is the bathroom”) or do you need to know how to conjugate verbs first? Do you really need to know how to say the alphabet or just know whether it is the same as the English alphabet? What is the most helpful way?
In a few of the programs I have looked at, the way the language is taught is really counter intuitive, but makes sense in the broader context. Whereas with others, they spend a lot of time with the basics and you get bored to tears before you can even ask a person what their name is. Or some make assumptions that you will be able to figure out what they are trying to teach you by throwing you into the deep end with a brick tied to your feet…that way is not for me. I knew that eventually I was going to have to stop scamming with the free programs and take the leap of faith.
This week we bit the bullet and bought a language program. It is called Rocket Languages and it comes very highly recommended from just about every place we’ve looked-even more highly regarded than Rosetta Stone, in some cases. But now that I’ve started that I’m stuck between feeling like I am smart because I have learned some of the words and phrases from Memrise and frustrated because I learned to say something one way and Rocket tells me a different way to say it. I suppose this is actually great, but can be confusing in the beginning. In the end, I’m just learning more, though, which is great.
I’m really enjoying the endeavor nonetheless. I have always like languages. I just sometimes have a hard time retaining what I have learned (perhaps the 6 concussions have something to do with that?). I can memorize the vocab for the test, but I need to continue to use all the words to keep them. This is when having my Lizzi near would be helpful. She is a French queen….otherwise known as my brilliant sister who majored in French in college and has lived in France for a year. I’m sure that once July comes around and Will and I have been speaking almost exclusively in French for two months, it will be as if we never didn’t know the language. (one can hope). For now, I will mispronounce my way into fluency and hope that in time the fluency will come. (actually, I think my pronunciation is pretty good…I just have no idea what I’m saying)
I guess it’s time to mange.
Au revoir mon ami!