Tuesday, January 30, 2007
So I've sat and I've watched an ice-age thaw
Yesterday I enrolled in a French language course.
After many years of thinking I'd like to learn a language, and at least a couple of years thinking I'd like it to be French, then at least the last few months talking about it... I actually did it.
One of the reasons I haven't done it sooner is that I'm afraid I might not have enough of a reason or motivation to learn a language. It's a big, difficult undertaking. I don't have specific plans to live in a French-speaking country. I don't have French-speaking family members.
Also, you can't learn a language without trying to speak it and making mistakes. I am a big coward and don't want to make a fool of myself. I know that as I progress, I will learn faster if I take every opportunity to talk with people I come across who know French, and I am afraid that I just won't do it. I think of my young cousin in Poland who was studying English at school but refused to even try to speak with me. Even though it would have been great, since almost no one else in the family had any English, I completely understood her embarassment and shyness.
And, it's four hours a week plus study time. That's a big commitment. I haven't been a student since 1997, and although I liked uni, I have never really missed that feeling of always having assignments and study I could be doing. But here's the funniest part. Because I don't want to give up several evening committments, I've chosen the Saturday MORNING 9am to 1pm class. That's ONE FOUR-HOUR CLASS, people!
And I am just not a morning person.
Almost all of my uni courses involved a lot of essay and report writing, even the exams. I never did much that you have to just flat-out memorise. I never really learned how to sit and study for extended periods. For exams I used to just go through my notes a couple of times, and hope that I would be able to handle all the questions based on my understanding of the content we had covered, rather than trying to memorise a lot of specific facts.
So the thought of vocabulary lists has me feeling a bit clammy. A friend described the use of flash cards and that made me feel better instantly. Sounds like a good, practical method.
I know I've taken better photos, but the one above was shot from the window of my charming hotel room, on the morning of my one-night-only trip to Paris (October 2004). It sits in a little frame right next to my desk at work. That trip was magical and I know I'll be back. That's motivating.