Sunday, May 17, 2009

French & Me

I'm way past due to blog about my recent French-learning experiences. When I arrived in Manizales last September, I decided it was about time for me to get serious about learning a third language. I'd started to study before in San Sal, but didn't get very far. The place (we'll leave the name out) is right down the street from my house here, so I thought hey, why not. I'll learn another language, and have the chance to reflect on the language learning process.

In short, it's been horrible so far. I have class twice a week from 6:30 to 9:00. The first teacher wasn't a teacher (in that she really didn't teach), although she had a good command of the language. What I wasn't expecting was such a humongous focus on grammar. Whatever happened to learning a language to communicate? To speaking in class? Quite frankly, the first three months of what I "learned" I could have done at home by myself and online for free.

Why am I taking these classes then? If I don't have deadlines, I don't do anything. I tried to learn Italian at one point on my life, then Telegu, then continue studying German on my own...couldn't do it. Once I get to the point that I can read and listen at a decent level, that what I do. I remember when I was living in Zihuatanejo, I bought all the Harry Potters that there were at that point in Spanish and had a blast. I'm sure I'll get there with French, but for now...

I want to know who teaches these people to teach (or better, not to). The teacher I have right now is decent, but still, nothing spectacular. After class after class of grammar and following the book, I wonder what's up. These "teachers" are basically the same age as me. In many ways, Manizales is like seeing what the US was like 50 some years ago. Family is paramount here, and I respect that. But they also teach like we're living then, too. Grammar is an important part of language, but certainly not the most important. And where has context gone? Why should I have to write 80 words about Colombia's weather forecast for the upcoming month? Since when do meteorologists forecast for a whole month? And when will I ever have to use that?

Also, I don't think I ever want to go to France.  Or Europe really (except for the eastern part or maybe to visit friends in Germany). Montreal, sure maybe, and Africa I really hope so!  So....I want to learn about culture in these places, too.  And what I really want is to be able to converse.  We talk about English as an international language now, meaning that there's more than one right way to say things and think in a language.  What about French? 

I really do like the language, but I'm wondering if I can't find a better way to spend my money.  

1 comment:

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