Sunday, August 2, 2009

Parlez Vous Francais? Oui, un petit peu

French is a romanticized language across the world. It's the langage de l'amour. It's the language they speak in Paris.

I always wanted to learn French, so when I realized that my college had a foreign language requirement (which I could've gotten out of as I could speak Hindi fluently) I saw it as an opportunity to learn French and grabbed it with both hands.

I don't know if there's any truth to this but there is a myth that a human brain has the most trouble learning a third language. Thereafter it becomes easy, as in the brain can process successive languages with more ease.

Maybe there is some truth to this, or maybe French is just a difficult language to learn, particularly as an adult. I would go with the second argument, given that the French only pronounce half their words & sentences, and the pronunciations in no way reflect their spellings!

I had a very tough time picking up the language while kids in my class chattered away in French. Most of them had already learnt Spanish in high school, and that made learning French easier for them since the two languages share a number of common or similar words. Also, it didn't help that my French classes were held in the gloomy, dimly lit basement of the foreign language building.

My instructor, an American of French origin, would sashay into class every single day and start chattering in French. She wore a peculiar perfume that to this day reminds me of her. I guess I started associating that perfume with my French classes, and I cringe when I smell it around me even now!

The classes were still bearable - we'd watch French movies, do group exercises etc. The excruciating part was the practice sessions where we sat in isolated cubicles with a headphone on - we would have to write down what we heard on the tape and record some of our answers to questions asked by the voice on the tape recorder.

I was not very good at French, and I hated it more because it was a language I really wanted to learn. What made it more frustrating was that the French that is taught in classes in America does not prepare you to understand the way the French speak the language! I suffered through it for 2 years but I don't have much to show for it.

So I've been thinking of brushing up my French and am considering enrolling for French classes at Alliance Francaise. I can probably jump the Beginner's level and start with Intermediate French. But I also really want to learn Spanish. If you ask me, I think Spanish is a much prettier language. French is quite guttural at the end of the day, though not as guttural as German.

So...French or Spanish? Help me!


The knife said...

download pictures of both football teams...take your pick ;)

Scarlett said...

@The Knife - If I decided on the basis of pictures of footballers, it would be Italian hands down!!!!! :)

Moonshine said...

French!!! I have no clue why!!!

I think i want to learn another language.. but not very sure.. coz it involves getting back into classroom!!!!

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - I was really keen to learn French as well b/c of all the romanticism associated with the language, but trust me, it's not an easy language to learn AT ALL.

I think you should learn a new language if you want to. It would only take a couple of hours a week of your time, so it won't be like going back to school full-time :)