Learning another language can be exciting! It opens up both sides of the brain as a special listening ear seems to unleash itself. According to one article, the learning of a second language has several benefits such as: creating brain growth; staving off dementia (we want that!); increasing listening skills and boosting memory, to name a few (www.spring.ork.uk).
I took French over and over, but sadly, I am not fluent ‘en francais.’ I can conjugate verbs, know some nouns and I studied the French map; but I cannot converse in French. I think that the foreign language teachers finally figured out that all of the drilling and listening to tapes did not prepare students for a simple conversation.
So, I eventually found a conversational French course which made much more sense. It was more of what I needed; but then, I had no one to use it with while learning. In order to really learn a new language and retain what is learned, conversations are needed. Practice does make perfect.
One of Alice Walker’s short stories is called, Everyday Use. A new language should be used daily. When I had the opportunity to use my “Conversational French” in a French-speaking country, I was stared at as though I was a Martian. My confidence was quickly shattered and I vowed not to try that again. I reverted back to simply pointing to what I wanted and that was an unfortunate state of affairs.
So in the New Year, I am working on ‘mi espanol’. I took a course called Spanish for Educators, and again, I had no reason to practice nor anyone to practice with, so what I learned lay dormant. I decided to use this time of epic cold weather wisely and I pulled out my trusty notes. I created a few flashcards and started to review some of the conversational phrases. I have even found a website that pronounces the words for me as I delve into this latest venture.
This time around, I will be more assertive and speak with more confidence, regardless of the reactions from others. I will be more patient with myself as I work on becoming truly bilingual. Then, I can sharpen my brain, stave off dementia, increase my listening skills and boast my memory. French and Spanish are so similar! Being proficient in one makes it so much easier to learn the other! Confidence is the key! Adios mi amigo!
Lynn February 22, 2015