mercredi 21 mars 2012

Learning French: Starting over again (Part 3)

View from the auberge near Annecy
I have only recently discovered Aaron Myers and his website The Everyday Language Learner which helps people learn another language. Aaron is a language coach. I had never heard of such a thing, but now that I have, I want one. 

Aaron has written a guest post for Multilingual Living titled Language Learning: Climb Past the Saddle! He believes that in language learning you reach where you need to reach in the language. My French has again plateaued but I am comfortable (or is that complacency?) with the level it is at. I can discuss a large range of topics in French with French friends and acquaintances. I can understand French books, magazines, films etc. I can manage to make myself understood and understand others in most situations. I make lots of errors and don't necessarily understand every word but I am able to communicate. I am an expert at finding alternative ways to say something if I don't know a particular language structure. I would like to be able have more 'shades' and 'nuances' in my language repertoire but the reality is that I don't need this as I can reasonably manage without it. When it becomes I priority, I will work harder to master the subtleties that are currently unknown to me.

I do however strongly advise against not understanding every word when ordering a meal. I was dining at an auberge near Annecy and when I read the menu I came across a dish that sounded most appealing. It had cream, bacon, onions etc. There was only one word in the entire description that I didn't understand. Not wanting to show my ignorance, and confident that it would just be the manner of presentation, I placed my order. The dish arrived and I took my first mouthful. I had to stop myself from gagging. I instantly realised my mistake. Rognons is the culinary term for kidneys. Sometimes knowing all the words is important! 

In my post, Learning French: Starting over again (Part 2), I listed a number of things that I have tried to supplement my language learning. Aaron succinctly lists 3 items to help 'stay in the game': 
  • Reading: I couldn't agree more. I can't recall the last book or magazine I read in English. 
  • Develop Friendships: Aaron talks about developing 'deep and lasting relationships with native speakers of the language you are learning'. I have also found that having good friends who are sharing the language journey is invaluable. They provide support, encouragement and also challenge me. I love having coffee or a meal with them and we chatter away in a 'safe' environment. It has helped break down reservations to speak the language and provides practice in getting my mouth around those tricky nasal sounds and the pesky French R. We may need to resort to looking up an online dictionary when none of us know the word and we don't always know enough to correct each other but still we are communicating in French. 
  • Imagine and Do: Imagining what I would like to do with the language is not something that I had consciously considered. It does however make a lot of sense and is perhaps something I have subconsciously done. I recall an animated French class when we sidetracked our teacher and ended up discussing terms when buying clothes and shoes and going to the hairdresser. We were all highly motivated knowing that we would definitely be using these skills. Writing blog posts in French is something that I would like to try. They will be riddled with errors but they will push me to go further on my French language journey.
I recommend you check out Aaron's The Everyday Language Learner site for lots more tips for learning languages.

2 commentaires:

  1. I definitely agree with the reading. I teach translation at master level and I had a French student who came to me after her first exam and said, "My English isn't good enough, is it?" I agreed so she asked what to do about it. "Read, read, read, it doesn't matter what, but read". When she sat for the exam again in September (they have automatic resits in France if you fail the semestrial exams), I couldn't believe it. She had doubled her mark! I tracked her down and ssked what she'd done to improve so drastically. "I did what you told me. I read all summer, whatever I could get my hands on". As Kathy says, you don't have to know every word you're reading, but you gradually absorb the vocab and it's there, on the tip of your tongue, when you need it. But for menus, I agree, it can be important! This is not the first time I've heard the "rognons" story.

    1. It is wonderful to have confirmation from someone so experienced in languages regarding the reading. Sometimes I think we try to make the language learning more complicated and overwhelming than we need be.  I have just discovered the blog All Japanese All The Time blog which has as its motto 'You don't learn a language, you get used to it.' Reading is certainly crucial when you look at it from this perspective.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...