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Language Lessons

NaBloPoMo November 2012 Prompt
Monday, November 26, 2012:

Do you speak more than one language? How did you learn the additional languages?

I am rather embarrassed to admit that, despite the fact that I live in a bilingual country, I am fluent in only one language. (I am particularly humbled when I think of my numerous friends and acquaintances from outside North America who speak English as fluently as I, despite the fact that it’s their second – or sometimes even third – language!)

And yet, I have always dreamed of becoming fluent – or at least somewhat conversant – in a second language.

français

French has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, from my earliest days of TV watching with the Canadian version of Sesame Street and its preschool-level French language segments, to the bilingual packaging on commercial products throughout our house, to four years of high school French classes and, as an adult, evening language lessons with Alliance française de Victoria.

But despite the fact that the language was a constant throughout my life, and that I wanted to become fluent, I never actually progressed past a very basic understanding of French. I regret that.

italiano

More recently – say, within the past two or three years – I have taken an interest in learning Italian. I started out by purchasing several reference and text books and attempting to teach myself some basics, then, needing the motivation and accountability of a group, enrolled this fall in a college-level evening class.

I like the challenge of absorbing a brand-new language (although my elementary knowledge of French keeps jumping in and confusing me!), and hope to carry on with the second level of classes in January. I don’t know how far I’ll get, or where it will take me, but I am greatly enjoying the process of learning and broadening my horizons.

Despite my advancing years, I have no plans to let go of my long-held dream to some day have the ability to speak with someone in another language… to be understood… and to understand.

Do you speak more than one language?

Laurel Regan – Writer, tangler, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, cat herder, needle felter, iPhoneographer, Growlita, iFan, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Lorinda J. Taylor November 26, 2012

    I’ve studied other languages in high school and college, but I always wanted to learn to read them rather than speak them. I always knew I would go to grad school, and being able to read two languages is required for an advanced degree. My mother was a Romance language major and so studied Italian as well as Spanish and French. She loved Italian! Read Dante in the original! It’s one of the easier languages, actually! Keep at it!
    Lorinda J. Taylor recently posted… The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, Ch.3My Profile

  • Elaine Kehoe November 26, 2012

    I had French from fifth grade through 10th and again in college, and still I know very little of it. I still would like to learn it. I was always better at reading it than speaking it or understanding it spoken. When I see a French film I sometimes try to understand what they’re saying without reading the subtitles, but usually I can only catch occasional words here and there. I applaud you for taking a class; maybe someday I’ll do the same (again).
    Elaine Kehoe recently posted… What I Learned…My Profile

  • Cheryl November 26, 2012

    I used to be comfortable speaking French but I find if you don’t use it on a regular basis, you lose it very fast (and I’ve lost most of it). I was required to be bilingual in my job with the Federal Government so they sent me on what they call a French Immersion program. Instead of working, I went to school every day for 7-8 months to learn French. Unfortunately (for the students), the teachers at the school were very lax in the rules and allowed us to speak English during our breaks (we weren’t supposed to). That does not help because we should have only been speaking French.

    They trained me only to the very basic level because my boss didn’t want me trained at all so he set the level at basic. That meant that I only got trained in the present tense. Try having a conversation with someone without using any other tense than the present!

    Later on (with another boss), I was sent back for upgrading to a higher level but still only one up from basic. They say you really have to at least work in a language for about 3 years before you can consider yourself fluent. I never got anywhere near fluent.

    I did start going to a wonderful French language Summer program in Nova Scotia one year but left early because of a death in the family and didn’t go back. It really is a true immersion course because you live there in dorms for 6 weeks and you are not allowed to speak one word of English at all, ever, except for day one. They test everyone on day one so they know which class to put you in. They give courses on French history, on gardening, cooking, etc, as well as language and the usual courses. You get to choose where you want to be.

    Good luck with your Italian lessons. You need to find someone else who can speak Italian so you can have some weekly (or preferably daily) conversations with them. :)

  • Winnie November 27, 2012

    Wish I did! I took highschool French and loved it, but never kept up with it and so it was lost. I was glad I had it when I went to Paris on vacation, but I spoke so poorly, but I got the points across and then they would switch to English, but were glad that I tried to speak the basics. I live in a family where some of my inlaws are fluent in other languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. Love that the kids are learning some of these languages, but my brother said the girls used to use their Japanese in the house but now that they are in school have stopped. My brother taught in Japan so he is fluent as well. Sure wish I kept up with my French. I used to take ASL (American Sign Language) classes as well, and I loved it, but again, after a bit stopped. Sure would recommend to kids to keep at it.
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  • Kathy November 27, 2012

    I am with you. Although I have never studied another language and only know English, I would have loved to have been fluent in French. Just think it would be so cool!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com
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  • Jenn November 28, 2012

    I have to say– at one point I was pretty fluent in French. The “Use it or Lose it” principle kicked in and now I understand some of what I hear, understand more when I read, but to be able to respond off cuff–can’t do it anymore, and how shameful as I had so many years of training in that language. I had a couple semesters of Italian…and I loved it, but again, I never used it in a practical way– I could probably conjugate a bunch of verbs and that’d be about it. :(
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