Friday, January 6, 2012

F-F-F-Friday - En français, s'il vous plaît

The Boy and I have decided to learn to speak French. This of course, is not a trivial decision, because learning a language never is.

I'm quite excited about this but also a bit trepidatious since it means investing time and effort into the endeavor. I have serious commitment issues and just deciding to learn to cook and making the commitment to go take the courses was a close to 9 month decision. So this learning French thing, while I'm excited about it, I'm also ... slow on the uptake.

The Boy, on the other hand, is super gung-ho about it. In fact, he went out and researched French classes at the local Berlitz centre and also went to a few bookstores to check out their French self-learning books. He also got online and checked out online courses, as well as, other self-learning systems and books. The result of tall this research?

Ta dah!!!!

He worked out that he liked the DK Hugo "French in 3 months" course the best. It comes with 6 CDs - 3 for beginners and 3 for advanced, as well as a workbook. He even checked out Amazon and read a number of the reviews to see how this system worked and found it to be very good.

The Boy decided that he wanted to get the books right away so he could get started immediately (did I mention gung-ho?) rather than wait for it to show up from Amazon, though it was cheaper from Amazon.

Once he decided on the main set of learning books, he also went ahead and picked out a few supplemented books that included a dictionary, a Berlitz set of 3 books on verbs, grammar and vocabulary and another Berlitz book on French essentials. It was quite a haul but (for The Boy) not overkill.

The reasoning for learning French is that it would provide us a better understanding of the things we love - French food and French wine.

I love French food and would like to learn to cook French food with greater confidence. I've read some books and the recipes tend to intimidate me somewhat. I think learning French and then being about to go to France to take some cooking classes during a vacation would be great fun.

This is a map of the French wine regions

The Boy has a great love of wine and he's taken to the French wines with great love and enthusiasm. He's only just beginning to learn about the region and the wines that come out of it. We don't get a lot of French wine here and because we don't know a lot about it, we don't know what is good versus us just paying through the nose for something that's mediocre. Certainly, our taste buds would tell us how good the wine is (at least to us and our tastes) but learning more about the region and the products would help too. Knowing the language would help facilitate that.

So ... French food, French wine ... plus The Boy has this dream (pipe dream in my mind!) of buying a villa somewhere in France that we would go and stay in a few months of the year when we retire. Now, considering that The Boy has never been in France and has spent very little time in Europe, this is a very romantic notion indeed. He thinks that being able to speak the language would help us along the way and break down my resistance to the idea. *grin*

Fortunately for me, I already speak the language a little, courtesy of "French as a second language" back in ye olde school days. My French at it's best was conversational but after years of neglect and lack of practice, I've lost a lot of the vocabulary and I'm spotty at best. My pronunciation is still pretty good, since I have a knack for languages, but the rest of it all needs work.

The long and the short of it, really, is that I've decided that I will dust off my French and do this together with The Boy. It's something fun and useful we can do together. I could do with a refresher and I was certainly pleased when I randomly picked up a beginner French lesson book and was able to understand most of a page of basic conversation without needing a translation.

So what about you? Ever learned a second language? If so, what is it? Do you still use it, or like me, has it fallen by the wayside through years of lack of use?

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