Learning a Second Language (Again)

So, I’ve started learning French… again.

My journey with French has been a bit of a rocky one. I started learning French in university, as part of my BA degree. I successfully completed first-year French with flying colours. Then, second year happened. We went from learning how to say your name and how to ask for bread, to complex poems and stories. All the wheels fell off the bus.

Then the bus fell off the road into Hell.

I also did not get on with my second-year French lecturers and I would have them in third year as well, if I continued with French. So, I said au revoir to French and changed my majors to English. And never looked back.

Until now.

I’ve been out of university for two years now and I miss the process of learning, so I have decided to return to French. I’m hoping that without the pressure of needing to keep my marks up and without horrible lecturers, I’ll have more success this time.

Learning a second language as an adult is really difficult. You take your native language for granted, until you need to learn another language. Suddenly you are left wondering how your brain was able to collect all its knowledge about tenses, nouns, idioms and exceptions without you even actively prompting it to do this. Your brain has just been quietly cataloging and storing all this information throughout your life like a crazy hoarder. That deserves some respect.

You also realise how intricate and slightly insane languages are. They encompass much more than just words. They encompass entire cultures and communities. They come with heaps of baggage. From strange sayings to weird grammatical conventions, languages reflect the creativity of the human mind. This also makes them quite challenging to learn.

Finally, my language journey has left me with a newfound respect for those who speak ‘broken’ English. Communicating in a language that is not your native tongue is frustrating and sometimes very demotivating. You feel all the words fluttering around your skull, but you are unable to clearly articulate them. Few things are as maddening as the procedure of laboriously and consciously trying to enact a process, which you have done without thinking your entire life.

So, this is my beginning (again). This journey might not be successful, but I’m sure it will be interesting.

 

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