Monday, December 5, 2011

Learning French

So how does one learn a language? Good question. It still seems a miracle to me with any bilingual individual to be able to just get it. To be able to flip flop back and forth between one language and the next with ease seems miraculous to me. In any case, the more we learn here, the more we realize just how far we have to go to even become close to bilingual. It seems hopeless at times. Other times when a recognizable phrase comes out of the crowd or the TV or wherever, and we immediately understand without thinking, that's when the learning feels like magic. I think if there weren't any of that magic, we would have given up long ago. So in any case, how are we undertaking this seemingly impossible feat? Recently, we've been starting each morning with a 20 min podcast. Our hosts Mark and Anna have become dear friends of ours as we join them with our breakfast for a bit of enlightenment and new vocab. Another best friend besides Mr. Pocket Dictionary is Mr. Google Translate. He can talk both English and French for us, so we like him a lot. There's been many hours sitting with Mr. Translate forming sentences, and us talking to ourselves. Our neighbors probably think we're nuts. Especially when we yell out a new phrase we've just learned, then revert back to english for the rest of the thought. Adam and I have placed post-its around the apartment as reminders and try to speak in French to each other both at home, and especially in public so that our English twang doesn't fully give us away. Oh, most importantly, there's the awkward situations where we actually have to talk to people. This is a bit nerve-racking because you never know what to expect, your senses are on high alert with the hope your brain doesn't shut down when trying to form a response. One Sunday afternoon, we went out for coffee with some parisian friends we recently met. Although their English is great, they asked if we were would be speaking French this time. Through patience and persistence, and a bit of English here and there, we were able to sustain a fairly primitive conversation for over an hour. I'm sure the conversation wasn't as exciting as it could have been, but it was a start. Ben Franklin once stated that the moment you go to a place where you don't know the language, you automatically lose half of your intelligence. He's completely right. We've reverted back to the age of toddlers just starting out in society. Hopefully with enough wine, cheese, and coffee with friends, we'll hit a growth spurt soon.

Oh yeah, and there's youtube, too. Check out this gem. Learning about the word ' to go'...

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