jeudi 11 août 2011

Learning a foreign language is like having children

First of all I have to preface this by saying that I don't have children but have friends that do and I can imagine what it's like...

In my life I'm forever making analogies and when I think about myself wanting to learn German I think about a couple deciding to have a second child...

Why do I think the two things are similar?

* The first foreign language you learn will be the hardest and any subsequent ones you learn will be much easier because you've already developed the skills necessary and you've learnt the tricks, grammar rules...

* Having the first child is hard work (because you've never done it before) but having subsequent children should be comparatively easier since you've already done it all before and have an idea of what to expect.

* The beginning is always the hardest. The very very beginning of my learning French was hard. I'd see words I didn't know and immediately look them up in a French-English dictionary but it wasn't really that helpful because I hadn't learnt to conjugate yet! Once I got to an intermediate (B1) level things became much easier and faster to learn.

* I imagine raising a baby is the same. The beginning is super hard when the baby is a newborn and you don't know what you are doing and you never get any sleep... but after a few months or a year it becomes gradually easier.

* Once you've gotten to a stage of competency (in my case with French) you do start to feel a sense of dread that you'll have to start ALL over again with this other language you want to learn...

* Likewise for having a second child. I can imagine what a relief it is when your child is able to be a bit independent (around the age of 4-5) and starts school and if you have a second one you'll have to start all over again and do all that hard newborn stuff again...

Is it all worth it though?

It must be! I think there is some sort of a sense of addiction or something... Most people who love languages fail to stop learning at one foreign language, they keep going learning others.. and most people have at least two children... so there must be a reason to start all over again and go through the hard part to get to the good stuff! :) It must be... rewarding?

The secret of the quickest way to learn a foreign language

Want to know the secret of the quickest way to learn a foreign language?

Get a boy/girlfriend who is a native speaker of that language.

I've heard it, read it, even experienced it... there really is no quicker way.

I believe it's true too because it's similar to how toddlers learn to speak. By spending so much time with their mother or primary caretaker... you just talk talk talk and listen listen listen all day long. It's an intensely quick method of absorbing and learning a foreign language.

However, it may not be so easy to find a willing participant ;)

Bonne chance !

mardi 9 août 2011

Zoidberg has friends!

Wow, I honestly didn't think that my friends cared so much. I feel so loved :) I'm talking about my French friends and that's why I'm writing it in this blog and not my Geneva blog.

* Last night one of my friends from France called me up out of the blue to ask if I wanted to meet him (and a friend of his) at the Fêtes de Genève.

* Then, this morning, I got a Facebook friend request from another friend from France. I lost contact with her and some others because I didn't have her email or Facebook, only phone number and I 1) somehow killed my French SIM card (magnetised or de-magnetised?) AND 2) got my phone stolen so I lost a whole heap of French phone numbers :( I was so shocked that she managed to track me down. I figured it was through a mutual friend.

* Just then, I got a surprise private message from yet another friend from France asking me how I was doing (after two shitty events that happened to me in Geneva...).

I feel so humbled because 90% of the time it's ALWAYS me asking people how they are doing and it's so nice to hear from someone out of the blue asking ME how I'm doing... particularly since everyone told me the French are cold blah blah blah... I really know who my real friends are and who I can rely on now.

(PS the quote is a Futurama reference, in case you didn't get it)

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